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October 25, 2012

Windows 8 launch: expert reaction [UPDATED]

The launch of Microsoft’s Windows 8 represents the most dramatic change in the history of Microsoft’s operating system. CBR rounds up what experts have to say about Windows 8.

By Tineka Smith

Mark Sutherland, president at Kaseya
"Considering its departure from the traditional Microsoft enterprise look and feel, as well as the fresh focus on support for the BYOD trend, Windows 8 will undoubtedly have a huge impact on businesses and their IT policies and procedures. However, a much less conversed topic has been the cessation of support for Microsoft Windows XP, arguably the more important news for organisations and – critically – their IT teams.

"A vast proportion of businesses are still running on XP, having failed to transition with the release of Windows 7. With just under two years of support left for the 10 year old system, thought immediately needs to be given to life after XP. Whether these companies want to move to Windows 8 or begin with Windows 7, some form of transition will be necessary.

"Migrating Operating Systems is a lengthy process, for any organisation of any size, and in order to minimise disruption to the daily operations of a business, IT teams should be given as much time as possible to prepare. A well-thought out and structured plan must be implemented soon if migration is to take place smoothly."

David Akka, UK MD Magic Software
"The stakes are high for Microsoft as it launches the Windows 8 – a huge departure from previous OS – and the Surface tablet, in an effort to gain some ground on Google and Apple: the big winners in the tablet and smartphone market. This big re-design means it looks as if Microsoft is banking on winning back share by capitalising on the consumerisation of IT, and shifting its focus from the enterprise to win the loyalty of the consumer market.

"Windows 8 has been designed for use on mobile phones, tablets and PC’s with the purpose of providing a common look and feel, however, has Windows taken too big a gamble on an operating system which is too radically different from previous versions? Such a move could alienate the existing generation of Microsoft devotees, especially in the enterprise where Microsoft will need to drive sales through legacy devices."

Sumir Karayi, CEO at 1E
"With the double launch of Windows 8 and the Surface tablet, it is clear that Windows 8 has been optimised for tablet users as opposed to providing that slick finish we have come to expect on the enterprise side.

"As a traditionally strong player in the enterprise space, Microsoft has opted to emulate the Apple look-and-feel with this new release. While the Windows 8 core is based on Windows 7 – which as a result of sustained evolution is an excellent Operating System – it is a shame that, on the desktop, the new Metro facade and the removal of the Start menu eradicate years of familiarity synonymous with the Windows brand.

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"Ultimately, while Microsoft’s focus on building a better User Interface for the enterprise space is commendable, it has certainly missed a trick when it comes to improving basic manageability and support. The migration process is a huge undertaking for any organisation, so a concerted effort to ease both the time required and costs incurred during the migration path would have been of huge benefit. "

Joseph Souren, VP and GM EMEA for Wave Systems
"Windows 8 will modernise access control and data management, while simultaneously improving data security within the enterprise. The launch of the new OS also brings fresh capability for the management of virtual smart cards and DirectAccess, allowing enterprise users to establish their identity using the machine as a token-for-network logon, negating the need for tens of passwords which fail to live up to the current threats we face. It also simplifies the user experience and provides higher assurance, reducing help desk costs. "

John Waterworth, senior practitioner at Foolproof
"When Microsoft last implemented such radical changes to Windows, way back in 1995, we were still years away from the emergence of mass social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Microsoft will therefore need very broad shoulders to weather the likely backlash from consumers on social media, which we believe could last as long as 2-3 years."

Raimo Lenschow, Barclays bank’s software analyst
"In our view, Microsoft needs a successful tablet to prevent an erosion of market share and loss of earnings from its core Windows and Office businesses," Lenschow told the BBC. The key question on our and most investors’ minds right now is how much traction the Windows 8 system and Surface tablet can gain.

"A success could spark a comeback story for the company, while failure would reinforce concerns about the firm’s core products. Altough the new tablet will likely have meaningful sales right from the start, the addition of a significant hardware product to Microsoft’s business model is likely to put pressure on its profit margin."

Robert Rutherford, founder and Managing Director of QuoStar Solutions
"Most businesses will not gain anything from moving to Windows 8 from Windows 7, but that is not to say that there is little difference between them. Windows 8 is all new, not so much at the core, but in terms of user experience it’s different, completely different. There lies the biggest issue. Many will remember the pain of moving to Microsoft Office 2007: the change was vast and caused a raft of training and productivity issues.

"The new Microsoft Metro interface is similar to the iPad. It is pane-based, yet it still needs to flick back to the old desktop system as most applications aren’t designed for it. That’s a good thing, but you can expect the old desktop to slowly evaporate in later releases when people get used to it. In general, people don’t like change.

"The general rule of thumb will be, stick with Windows 7 if you are already there – no matter what size of business. If you are using tablets (or want to use more tablets) then you may want to try Windows 8, but still leave the rest of your PC estate on Windows 7. Hardware compatibility has been drastically improved on the new version so when the time comes to switch, virtually any PC or laptop that will run Windows 7 will also run Windows 8."

Chris Lim, Trustmarque, Practice Manager – Microsoft Technology Services

"Microsoft’s launch of its new Windows 8 operating system and Surface tablets are a sign that Microsoft is taking consumerisation and user demands seriously – and puts the money where their mouth is on their ‘devices and services’ company focus. For business, the elephant in the room is XP support ending in April 2014, however, the focus should be understanding where Windows 8 fits into current desktop plans.

"What Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Surface tablet launch means for businesses is that they should evaluate whether they have a strategy and ability to support a hybrid environment of both Windows 7 and 8. Most organisations have current plans for a Windows 7 enterprise desktop and have been working hard on application rationalisation, packaging and app virtualisation. Will Windows 8 stop these plans? No. May they need to ensure these plans are flexible enough to support Windows 8 devices too? Faster than you think.

"It’s good to see Microsoft continually pushing the boundaries of business software and introducing the latest technology to the workplace. Expect to see some exciting devices for Windows 8 and watch the blur between personal and work devices get even more interesting."

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