Still debating the “To 8 or not to 8” question? We don’t blame you. Change is never an easy thing, especially for resource-strapped SMBs that can’t afford lost productivity or ill-advised expedentures.
As a long-time hosting provider of business cloud services like Exchange 2013 and SharePoint, we can confidently say that aside from a few bumps and bruises along the way, upgrading software is usually a beneficial move. For the most part, upgrades include a number of beneficial new features and capabilities that will increase productivity. The same applies to new releases of Windows operating systems (Vista notwithstanding).
And there’s no denying that Windows 8 does certainly have its appeals, notably better mobility, speed and performance, not to mention touchscreen capabilities. From a strictly business productivity perspective, all of these features should appeal to SMBs looking to do more with less.
But Windows 8 also has its drawbacks. Let’s see what our experts think will be the biggest hurdles to SMB adoption of Windows 8…
The Downside to Updating to Windows 8
#1. Still migrating to Windows 7
With Windows XP support will ending in April 2014, many companies have either just migrated to Windows 7 or are still in the long and somewhat painful process of doing so. And since many companies tend to replace hardware during OS upgrades, few will want—or even be in a position—to reimbark on another resource-draining IT investment so soon.
#2. Windows 7 is good enough
In light of the abovementioned point, Windows 8 would have to be lightyears ahead of its predecessor to incite organizations to embark on back-to-back upgrades. And that simply isn’t the case here. Sure, Windows 8 has several new and impressive security features like BitLocker hard-drive encryption, which will be especially useful on mobile devices. But these improvements may not be enough to convince SMBs to upgrade—at least not for now. Many organizations may simply decide to conduct a lengthy test-drive of Windows 8 in a business context by allowing employees to bring in their Windows 8 devices through the company’s managed BYOD policy.
#3 Too much change too soon
Employees are familiar and comfortable with the current Windows interface, which has not changed much in over a decade. Windows 8 pulls them out of their comfort zone, and may involve additional employee support and training. Companies debating whether or not they should upgrade to Windows 8 need to factor employee frustration and this learning curve into the final equation.
Windows 8: Good Product, Bad Timing?
We think Windows 8 is a solid OS and an improvement over Windows 7, but it simply may be one of those products that suffer from the “good product, bad timing” syndrome—something Microsoft already experienced with its first tablet launch in 2002, nearly eight years before the iPad.
In the short-term, Windows 8 will appeal most to SMBs that are ready for a new OS—like those who haven’t yet migrated from Windows XP and who are willing to drop their planned upgrade to Windows 7. Those that do continue with their planned upgrade to Windows 7 may even run the risk of wanting to upgrade to Windows 8 sooner than expected.
What remains to be seen is how long organizations that have just migrated to Windows 7 will remain on 7.