Editorial: Will Windows 8 Boost or Bust Office Productivity?

Windows of Opportunity

Windows 8 is creating a whole new category of hybrid computers and tablets. It has been really fun to see how the hardware manufacturers have designed their offerings around the new OS. Very recently, I published an article titled “Windows 8 Tablets Listed“.  I feel sorry for anyone who has to make a decision about a laptop or tablet this coming holiday season. The offerings are simply incredible. You have laptops that you can literally lift the screen off the keyboard base and now you have a tablet. Others let you rotate the screen around and fold it down over the keyboard to use as a tablet. In my opinion, if you want to experience Windows 8 to the fullest, you have to consider using one of these hybrid models. They are so thin and portable, with great battery life, and really impressive power. I saw one that was demonstrated in Berlin that had a core i7 with 8GB of RAM. Think of how much computing power is in that thing! The innovation that has followed the Windows 8 announcement has been very encouraging. But let’s not forget Microsoft’s own foray into the hardware market. The Microsoft Surface tablet has been eagerly anticipated for a while now and all eyes are on its late October release. Even with Microsoft entering the hardware market as a competitor, companies like Dell and HP have to be happy to have Windows 8 to design new hardware around.

What About Business?

Now that is a good question. As a consumer who loves to play with gadgets, the Windows 8 environment gets me pretty pumped. However, as an IT manager, I am less than enthusiastic about the business prospects for Windows 8. First of all, I think it is going to be a nightmare to implement. I know this might sound hypocritical considering I was touting its ability as a tablet and a desktop, but one major flaw I see with this OS is that you can’t turn off the tablet interface. Even if you are in the desktop mode, you are still forced to go into the tablet style startup screen to get to your programs and features. The desktop is minus one well known component that has been in Windows operating systems since Windows 95–the “Start” button. This is going to be a big learning curve, among other things, for the average worker. The expense of training employees and time it will take for IT to support users who are new to Windows 8 are two big negatives. The outlook isn’t all negative though. Windows 8 has much faster boot times and some really nice recovery options in case it gets infected with malware. If business users take advantage of the hybrid tablets, they will enjoy all the freedom of the mobile experience, but have the power of Microsoft apps they are used to using on their desktops.

I think Windows 8 is going to take off in a big way this fall. IT departments are going to have to be prepared with the onslaught of new devices hitting their networks around the first of next year. Let’s look on the bright side, maybe this will be the next big thing in IT and maybe it will help move our economy a little closer to the black. A guy can dream can’t he?


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Darrin Jenkins

Darrin is an IT manager for a large electrical contractor in Louisville KY. He is married and has 3 kids. He loves helping people with their technology needs. He runs a blog called Say Geek!