Surveys have shown most enterprises are waiting on migrating to Windows 8 largely due to recent migrations to Windows 7, but consumers aren’t going to wait for enterprises. Your BYOD policy needs to be ready.
Windows 8 mobile devices like the Surface tablet and Dell’s XPS 10 tablets, not to mention Windows 8 phones, are selling by the millions. Expectations are that Windows 8 phones will only reach 4 percent market share by the end of the year (not bad actually, for such a brief time on the market) but IDC predicts Windows 8 could pass iOS in only three years.
There are reasons Windows 8 is predicted to be so successful. Windows 8 should be attractive to enterprises largely because it can, hopefully, help with your BYOD madness. Windows 8 devices work seamlessly with a range of Microsoft products already in use in the enterprise or at home, including Exchange, Office, and Outlook. (Outlook has some notable exceptions.) A flood of Windows 8 devices into your enterprise won’t be nearly as disruptive as the first wave of mobile devices was, but you’re still going to have some issues...
Device management: Windows 8 doesn’t get rid of the device management problem. It doesn’t necessarily make it worse, because most device management vendors are already developing tools for Windows 8. But at the very least, expect that there will be a new influx of devices into your environment, both because of the holidays and because of continued growth in the tablet market.
Legacy apps: How much a problem this is depends on how proactive you’ve been with your mobile apps. Proactive companies that have created business-critical mobile apps for iOS or Android are going to have to develop Windows 8 apps in the near future, especially if those apps were developed natively as opposed to using HTML5. The look and feel of Windows 8 is different enough that even apps in HTML5 might have to be reworked to accommodate a different user experience.
The other half of this problem comes with apps designed for Windows 7 desktops. Windows 8 will run those apps, but the interface (not to mention a heavy touch-screen use environment) will mean that even desktop apps might need be redesigned for home-use laptops and ultrabook/tablet hybrids. Only 1 percent of home PCs are Windows 8 machines, but you can expect that number to rise.
Four operating systems: An interesting sidenote to this is that, while BlackBerry is in real trouble, it still has enterprise champions. Like any good company, it is making an attempt to regain its lost market share. Windows 8 makes that more difficult, but technically, for now, BlackBerry is still the No. 3 mobile OS. It isn’t inconceivable that Windows 8 will simply complicate an already complicated BYOD landscape by creating four viable operating systems that the enterprise has to plan for. A rough four-way split is probably great for consumers who are looking for innovation and competitive prices, but it is not so much fun for the enterprise.
So, the good news for CIOs and their departments is that Windows 8 is easier to integrate into BYOD plans than many other systems because of the prevalence of Microsoft products in the enterprise. But you’ve still got work to do when all these devices enter your building. At least this time, you and Microsoft have laid a little of the ground work.