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Businesses Contemplate Windows 8 Upgrade

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 12/8/2011

With the first broadly available test version of Windows 8 -- a new iteration of Microsoft's flagship operating system -- coming in late February 2012, businesses are starting to wonder when and if they should switch to Windows 8.

Microsoft has high hopes for Windows 8, but technology analysts at IDC don't think Windows 8 will get much traction within businesses that rely heavily on desktop PCs.

Windows 8 Upgrade Decision for Businesses

In a recent report, IDC analysts predicted that Windows 8 will be a flop on desktop PCs, while doing OK in tablets.

This forecast that Windows 8 would not do as well as Microsoft may have hoped was one of ten IDC predictions for the system infrastructure software market for 2012, with the overall theme being that the convergence of virtualization, cloud, automation, analytics, and the consumerization of IT are setting the stage for major industry shifts in how businesses use technology.

Others argue that while companies may not upgrade their existing PCs to Windows 8, many businesses will be buying new PCs that will come with Windows 8 pre-installed.

"The real measure of Windows 8's success will be whether it can drive an uptick in PC sales," writes Matt Rosoff, who has been covering Microsoft for over a decade.

The presence of Windows 8 on tablets, rather than desktop PCs, may also allow Windows 8 to get a meaningful foothold within businesses. Many business employees are bringing their tablets to work, a trend that is proving challenging to IT managers who are dealing with a growing "bring your own technology" (BYOT) to work phenomenon.

"That's why Microsoft is putting a lot of attention into the tablet side of Windows 8 -- it hopes that Windows 8 tablets will recapture some consumers who otherwise would have bought an iPad, and stop the slow invasion of iPads into the enterprise," notes Rosoff.

IDC concurs that BYOT is a growing factor in enterprise IT. "The system infrastructure software market is both adapting to address virtualization and cloud and, at the same time, being changed by cloud, consumerization of IT, and industry convergence," said Al Gillen, program vice president, System Software, at IDC.

There are many nice features of Windows 8 that businesses may crave, including the ability to distribute private apps to employees. The key takeaway for businesses, however, is that they may find that Windows 8 enters their enterprise whether they plan for it or not, as a result of employees bringing tablets to work.

For business IT staff, 2012 may be a dizzying year. Given the pending arrival of Windows 8 and myriad other software changes, coupled with rapid changes in organizational staffing due to economic drivers, it's a good idea for IT managers to undertake an inventory of technology assets and put a plan in place to improve technology deployment and management in 2012.

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