What Windows 8 means for your business

By: Graham Fern

Date: 10 October 2011

Windows 8 start screenSo, Microsoft has revealed what Windows 8, the next version of its dominant operating system, will look like. I've tried it for myself and while it's true that the changes to the interface are radical, what we effectively have with Windows 8, is Windows 7 (which you might well be already using), with added functions to support touch screens.

Although designed to run on both tablet computers and traditional PCs, in reality the touch screen ‘swipe' functions that Microsoft has added quickly get tiresome when you're using a mouse.

When you get past the fancy welcome screens and into the desktop, the look becomes very similar to what we're already used to with Windows 7. So, for businesses that are already using Windows 7, there's going to be little point in upgrading – unless they really like the new aesthetics.

Windows 8 for tablet computers

So, it looks like Microsoft is shooting for the tablet computing market with Windows 8. But will it work? Well, you need to keep in mind that Apple has been doing this for quite a while now with its iPad. Microsoft has quite likely joined the tablet market a little too late.

While Windows 8 certainly looks pretty, I don't think it's really any great threat to its competitors.

It's not finished yet

However, before you start getting too excited (or not) about Windows 8, remember that the software is currently in developer preview only. It's not in beta, the stage that software gets to just before it's released. It's not even at alpha, the stage before that.

It's very early days for Windows 8, and I expect to see Microsoft change it considerably before it launches. It's wise to hold off drawing too many definite conclusions for now.

Should you upgrade to Windows 8

But should businesses rush to upgrade when Windows 8 is finally released? That depends entirely on what the finished product is like. At the moment, it offers nothing more than a fancy overlay to the operating system you are pretty much already used to. I can't see too many companies buying into the change.

As it stands, Windows 8 looks good, but could be a bit of a faff to use on a desktop computer. It'll work well on tablets, certainly, but the market is already swamped and by the time Windows 8 comes to market, the likes of Apple and HTC could be light-years ahead.

But let's wait and see what Microsoft rolls out as it comes closer to launching Windows 8. Perhaps I'll change my opinion, because Microsoft will undoubtedly have a number of big changes to make before the product launches.

Graham Fern is technical director at axon IT.

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