Windows 8 won't become an enterprise IT standard as customers dump Microsoft's legacy PC operating system XP. Instead, corporate IT departments will stick to what they know and install Windows 7.
That’s according to technology analyst Forrester, which reckoned Windows 7 is fast becoming the de-facto PC operating system for big businesses shifting users off Windows XP. Redmond plans to pull the plug on support for XP less than a year from now, on 8 April 2014.
Just over six months after Microsoft launched its new operating system, Windows 8 isn’t even showing up on company-issued PCs, while 48 per cent of PCs are running Windows 7, according to the Forrester report, IT will skip Windows 8 as the Enterprise Standard.
Forrester estimates that Windows XP is running on 38 per cent of business PCs, while OS X is on seven per cent. Windows Vista and Linux are on four and three per cent of IT-issued machines respectively.
What about new PCs? The outlook is bleak there, too. The analyst says 76 per cent of new PCs have Windows 7 installed - and that Windows 8's predecessor is expected to be running on 60 per cent of shiny new PCs in six months’ time.
Why not make the move?
The reason companies are not shifting from Windows 7 to the newer operating system is because Windows 8 represents a “significant” change from Windows 7, “but not yet a positive one from the enterprise IT perspective”, Forrester's David Johnson writes.
The new operating system has come at the wrong time for IT departments. which are experiencing migration fatigue as they move off of Windows XP ahead of next April’s deadline, says Forrester.
One of the barriers to Windows 8 adoption is – yup, you guessed it – the fact Windows 8’s Metro UI dumps the familiar Start button and desktop at start-up. Users are "confused" over the switch between the touch interface and traditional desktop, says the analyst.
Another worry is the amount of work IT will need to undertake to assess and migrate their existing apps from the conventional desktop to Windows 8’s touch interface, says Forrester.
“Top concerns are the potential for significant end-user training and support and the need for application re-design to take advantage of the new interface,” Johnson writes in the report.
“To be reasonably considered an enterprise standard, approximately half of company-issued PCs must run Windows 8 by the time the next Windows version hits the shelves. Windows 7 hit that mark. However, Forrester doesn’t believe Windows 8 will become the next commercial standard,” the report said.
However, Forrester does believe end users could force the pace of adoption of Windows 8 machines as companies offload the cost of paying for machines by having employees bring their own computing devices to work.
Employee interest in Windows 8 is “very high”, with 38 per cent preferring Windows 8 compared to 35 per cent for Windows 7. On tablets, 20 per cent of users say they would prefer a Windows 8 slab, while 26 per cent prefer Apple's iPad.
However, Johnson points out Windows 8 tabs are a long, long way behind Apple's fondleslab in terms of polish of finish and end-user support. Also, the analyst reckoned, Windows 8 will struggle to poach users from iOS and Android in the mobile device space until it offers more apps. ®