What the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Means for the Enterprise

David Wagner, Managing Editor | 2/29/2012 | 28 comments

David Wagner
Last week at HIMSS, one of the surprise topics that kept coming up was Windows 8. Sure, I heard more about storing medical images in the cloud and meaningful use, but every time we talked about any of that, it wasn’t long before someone said, “Of course, when Windows 8 comes out, things will change.” People seemed to feel it was inevitable that Windows 8 would come and succeed, and that everything we thought about mobile computing would be out the window.

Today, Microsoft unveiled its consumer preview of Windows 8, and it looks to be on schedule for a fall release. I can’t remember the last “consumer preview” that meant so much to the enterprise. The issue at hand is not simply migrating to another OS (though we were writing stories only a few months ago helping people get from XP to Windows 7), but changes in the way we view mobile computing, virtual computing, and security.

Windows 8 is often viewed by the gadget techie press as a last-gasp effort to right a foundering ship and fix failures in the mobile market. However, during a talk at HIMSS called “Leveraging Mobile Technologies to Achieve Better Outcomes,” Andy Willet, CMO of NetMotion Wireless and a former executive at several major cellular carriers, predicted Windows 8 would bring big gains. “The Metro UI combined with security features and the desire to stay in one ecosystem would lead to more hospitals adopting Windows phones [and] tablets to pair with their PCs.”

Of course, some of that hinges on the success or failure of commercially accessible Windows 8 tablets. Willet was quick to point out that Windows tablets predate the iPad but have gained little traction.

Windows 8 has built-in support for 3G and 4G and will give users easier ways to access data across multiple platforms through a single user experience. That is key for most end users who are harder to train and more interested in knowing a single system. This would be key for a hospital environment.

The same reasons hospitals might adopt Windows 8, particularly security, apply to the enterprise in general. An improved version of BitLocker is promised for Windows 8. There will be fewer delays, and the encryption of hard drives and other data that started with Windows 7 is being fully realized with Windows 8. One good feature is the ability to encrypt data on a USB drive that could be tied to a specific date. That way, contractors or mobile workers could be given access to data that “dies” at a predetermined time.

Windows 8 support for Hyper-V is also a major enterprise plus. It will allow you to run multiple 32- or 64-bit operating systems on a single PC. This would allow you to run multiple test beds on a single system (four test beds with relatively average RAM of 4GB). Microsoft will even be shipping preconfigured VMs with older versions of Microsoft browsers and other software, so you can test how your apps will work with different configurations. This would make testing cheaper and easier, especially if you weren’t willing to go to a full virtual desktop ecosystem.

In other words, Microsoft is offering a robust enterprise experience in what looks to be a very consumer-driven product. This might be the exact combination to get the company back into the mobile game while not giving up any enterprise ground. Enterprises may be tempted to drive their users toward Windows 8 devices for the security and ease of management, and consumers might be willing to switch to Windows 8 for the consistent experience.

Windows 8 is coming this fall, and if the excitement at HIMSS is any indication, it is likely to make some serious noise. CIOs, get ready to change the way you look at your PC and mobile strategies.

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David Wagner   What the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Means for the Enterprise   3/1/2012 11:44:03 AM
Re: Windows to Go Drive
@SaneIT- I haven't gotten a chance to try to do real work with the Metro UI at all. I've looked at it, and I thought it "fit my eye" really nicely. I found it less busy than a traditional Windows desktop. But I'm guessing that is apersonal thing. When i try to get work done with it, i might feel entirely differently.

From what I understand, Windows 8 will allow a switch to a more desktop look for use with older apps. This might give people the chance to transition.
mejiac   What the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Means for the Enterprise   3/1/2012 9:01:32 AM
Re: What the Ipad coudn't accomplish
@David,

I downloaded Windows 8 Consumer Release yesterday and plan to have it installed on my laptop.... it's a netbook, so I'll let you know how that goes. So far from what I've seen in the media W8 is sleek, and it runs smoothly (which is a continuos effort from Microsoft to create lean OS's).

Here's a funny thing... we're beta testing windows 8 yet many companies (including mine) are still in XP, mainly due to the mass amount of effort to get so many users and legacy software into the Windows 7 environment. I actually think the only reason that most companies are migrating is because Microsoft put their foot down and said that XP will no longer be supported.

Would a company consider jumping straight to Windows 8? Or is 8 not ready for the business environment? aimed more at the consumers?
SaneIT   What the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Means for the Enterprise   3/1/2012 8:16:09 AM
Re: Windows to Go Drive
@David, yes companies are in a better position to do a big roll out but the question is still does Windows 8 work for the enterprise.  I've played with the developer release and started up a VM with the Consumer Beta yesterday.  The Metro UI is so different from any desktop UI that it's going to have a very hard time gaining traction on the desktop.  I can see where it would work on phones and tablets but on the office desktop it just seems too busy.  That's just my opinion though and I do believe that mobile OSes and Desktop OSes will continue to grow closer in look and feel, I'm just not sure if Metro is the answer.
Gigi   What the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Means for the Enterprise   3/1/2012 5:04:29 AM
Gigi
Re: Windows to Go Drive
"The Metro UI combined with security features and the desire to stay in one ecosystem would lead to more hospitals adopting Windows phones [and] tablets to pair with their PCs."

David, I think this can brings Microsoft a greater momentum in Smartphone and Tablet sector, where they had yet to show their presence. So far android is the leading OS in Smartphone and tablet sector, which is supporting by the consortium heading by Google.
David Wagner   What the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Means for the Enterprise   2/29/2012 11:37:30 PM
Re: Windows to Go Drive
The "exceptional features" that Microsoft is counting on is the Metro UI being so good that consumers love it and that the security is so good that enterprises will find a way to upgrade to make their end users happy.

Let's remember that there is a major difference between the upgrade from XP to 7 and from 7 to 8-- virtual desktops are far more common. For some enterprises, the switch will be easy as pie.

And even for those that don't have VDI, they have a lot of experience upgrading OSs now. Enterprises might be more capable of doing it than the XP days.
white.space   What the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Means for the Enterprise   2/29/2012 11:24:30 PM
Windows 7 is nice
I wholeheartedly agree! Not a great fan of Windows, I actually like Windows 7. There has to be a really compelling reason for me to want to get on Windows 8, especially as it looks like we may not be able to upgrade from Windows 7, and will need a different box altogether. 
User Ranking: Blogger
white.space   What the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Means for the Enterprise   2/29/2012 11:21:56 PM
Windows 8 meet browser meet Android
Would Windows 8 and Android based devices be able to integrate seamlessly, that would be a big question.

Windows 8 and Android based devices may not be able to talk to each other in the conventional sense of the word; but if you are using a browser you probably do not need them to. The whole premise of the cloud is that it is platform-agnostic. For example, my Dropbox folder on a Dell desktop syncs effortlessly with my Macbook and Android phone. 
User Ranking: Blogger
white.space   What the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Means for the Enterprise   2/29/2012 11:16:59 PM
Que sera sera
@Dino.Londis: I am thinking about my (Google) wallet alright! Did not realize Chromebooks came with a data cap. Thank you for your comment, and for that nugget of information. Unlimited data is never unlimited, there is always a fine print, even when there is no fine print. Sigh!

Unless I were to limit Chromebook activities to 5 WP posts (unlikely) or somehow became a billionaire (even more unlikely) or ATT changed their data policy (yes, right) Chromebooks are out. 

 
User Ranking: Blogger
Taimoor Zubair   What the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Means for the Enterprise   2/29/2012 11:16:09 PM
Re: What the Ipad coudn't accomplish
It would be great to have this sort of compatibility between different devices. However, it would be interesting to see if MS supports cross-platform compatibility. Would Windows 8 and Android based devices be able to integrate seamlessly, that would be a big question.
Taimoor Zubair   What the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Means for the Enterprise   2/29/2012 11:12:38 PM
Re: Windows to Go Drive
I think Windows 7 has become a pretty stable Windows version after XP. People are getting comfortable to it after the Vista nightmare. I think it would really take some highly exceptional features to pull people from 7 to 8.
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