Windows 8, both Desktop and Phone versions of the OS have been out for a while. Overall, the acceptance of the same has been favorable from the tech world. One area where Windows Phone 8 can shine is the Enterprise, due to multiple factors.
We will use the following three key sections to analyse and find whether Windows Phone 8 can make an impact on the Enterprise landscape or not.
The current enterprise mobile solutions are heavily dominated by Blackberry and iOS Devices to some extend.
Blackberry still remains the Enterprise IT Department’s favoured mobile work force solution, highly contributed by the secure framework for email delivery and reliability. There is nothing at this moment which can excel the security and reliability of Blackberry.
But over the few years, compared to other Phone manufacturers Blackberry have failed to raise any enthusiasm on the Consumer front. Also the infrastructure solution from Blackberry haven’t seen any major innovation or upgrade from what they have started. They have been trying hard to push ahead, but the time horizon that has been projected by them to come up with something new has been longer compared to competitors, who have a recycle period of 6 months on an average. All these factors have triggered a shift in continuing with Blackberry solutions among the current users. On another note, my honest view is Blackberry OS 10 has very promising Enterprise features baked in.
Also Blackberry doesn’t have anything to offer for the current Enterprise users demand on working on Office documents and instant messaging. Their BBM solution is more of peer-to-peer messaging solution which will not work for Enterprises, who would like these to be integrated with their Corporate Directories.
iPhones and iPads
iOS devices currently enjoys a favourable position in Enterprise space. This is mainly attributed by the push or acceptance from top executives, who were either bored by the crude Blackberry handsets or who liked to use their shiny iDevices also at work. This acceptance at the top management and the pressure put on IT departments by the top decision makers started the trend in penetration of these devices with in the enterprise. Still, iOS devices in Enterprise are limited to a creamy layer with-in the hierarchy.
Another landscape where Apple dominates are the startups and technology based organizations who doesn’t want to invest heavily on Enterprise Infrastructure or use their own implementations and want to have a loosely coupled work environment. Over a period of time Apple also supported this trend by improving their support for Microsoft Exchange Active Sync and device security aspects.
Still IT departments are skeptical in accepting iDevices as a replacement for their existing infrastructure on security aspects and control on these devices.
Another not so significant player is Android. Due to Open source nature and lack of native support of Enterprise exchange policies , they never were in the radar of Enterprise IT. Companies like Samsung and LG have tweaked the OS to in-corporate the same. But on Nexus versions, which offered pure Android experience, this was not supported. So the users have to depend on third-party applications from NitroDesk and RoadSync for this. Haven’t heard any large-scale implementation of these tools at Enterprise level. The usage was limited on the Consumer space, where users like to have access to MS Exchange on their personal phones. Windows Mobile (predecessor of Windows Phone OS) did have these build in but, the lack of acceptance on the Consumer Space and continued support of Blackberry solutions saw hardly any adaptation.
But, this is gone change with the presence of Windows Phone 8. This new revamped mobile OS from Microsoft has started seeing acceptance from Consumers mainly due to the new virgin UI and social media integration. Unlike Apple who hardly had any Enterprise integration other than ActiveSync support, this new OS has the Enterprise Core built-in like its Desktop counterparts.
Now why this could be a threat to iOS and Blackberry on Enterprises?
- Blackberry is at the verge of being written off by Enterprises soon. To have a blackberry based messaging solution, the overhead is more for IT Department. You need to have a tie up with the Mobile Service Provider, license cost and maintenance of additional servers for this solution.
- iDevices are still consumer devices at the core. Other than ActiveSync, device encryption and support for Exchange policies, it is still lagging in surviving on Enterprises. Joining a Domain, accessing files server with in the Enterprise etc. are not native to the OS or missing.
Another key factor which cannot be ignored is most of the Enterprises run Microsoft based Enterprise solutions at their organizations. Hardly seen any major shift in this trend.
The lacking from the existing players is where Windows Phone 8 have a niche.
- To support a messaging solution on Windows Phone 8, IT doesn’t need any extra infrastructure. Your existing Exchange server is more than enough. ActiveSync licenses are part of the deal
- No dependency on Mobile Service Provider
- Support for Device Encryption and Security as per Enterprise Policies
- Tight integration with Microsoft based Enterprise components in the OS. SharePoint for example.
- Native support of MS Office applications on Windows Phone 8 is another nail in the coffin for the current players on Enterprises.
- Device Management and Provisioning
- Can have an Enterprise hosted App Store
The acceptance on Windows Phone or tablets on the consumer front is skeptical. One factor highlighted by analysts is the low App penetration in Windows App Store. But there are other plus points which can influence consumer adaptation. iOS has started getting bored for users.
A fresh UI from Windows Phone till it ages would pull in consumers. Unlike iDevices, you are not locked into an ecosystem.
On the Enterprise it’s a different story. IT doesn’t take decisions on WOW factor and usability.
Their key decision-making parameters are cost and how well they can have integration with their existing infrastructure, which is dominated by Microsoft solutions.
Security and native MS Office are another enablers for voting for Windows Phone or tablets. VOIP solution based on Skype which gives a transparent experience, also cannot be ignored. Enterprises will be slow on migrating to Windows 8 based Desktop and laptops, but there is nothing holding Enterprises from adopting Windows Phone 8, who want to replace the aging Blackberry Devices.
So until Apple comes with its own infrastructure solutions for enterprise and Blackberry speeding up their upgrade process – Windows 8, both Desktop and Mobile will be a threat to both on the Enterprise.
I couldn’t find a better title for this post as that’s the comparison Windows 8 is receiving after its introduction by Microsoft.
So will it be another Vista?
It’s a fact that Vista was a failure – but mainly due to its notorious support for hardware drivers. Users had issues with the existing drivers and devices they had, on Windows Vista, leading to frustration due to their devices not supported on the new OS at that time. The new kind of UI that was introduced doesn’t seems to be of an issue. If that was case then Windows 7 could be marked as a failure.
The timing of Windows 8 also is in favour. Its launch coincides with the majority of Windows XP users who are without any active support from Microsoft, Third parties and Device manufactures.
Whether that’s the case with Windows 8?
Certainly not. I have been using Windows 8 RC and then Enterprise Version in the past two months. Installation of both the Releases on my Desktop which houses a 4-year-old Motherboard and Intel Core 2 Duo was pretty smooth barring the head ache of getting my existing Programs and Settings from old Windows XP.
All the hardware worked out of the box
- A not so well-known FireWire PCI card
- Benq LCD monitor
- Canon Pixma Wi-Fi Printer
- A not so well-known 3-year-old web-cam, which worked after loading the Drivers that came with the product
I would say the hardware integration including your networked devices is pretty good in this Version. Your networked Blu-ray Players, Media Players, TV etc. can be brought into your Desktop environment without any additional efforts. Sharing Media across the devices is easy.
So my experience on that front as captured above rules out that Windows 8 will be another Vista (from my view-point).
So what else, as per the analysts will make Windows 8 a failure?
UI !!! – This is the major culprit as per them.
I’m bored with the existing UI I find in earlier Windows versions and other OS that exist today. The same icons, bordered windows. The restriction of your programs with in a specific area on your screen space etc. We started with plain flat icons, over a period of time we moved to colourful three-dimensional ones. But the underlying interface by which you interacted with your OS remained the same. Main menu to Sub Menu…Icons… Dialog boxes…Windows…
Windows Phone Metro UI was a treat. I don’t own a Windows Phone 7 device. But based on my interaction with my friend’s devices and that at show rooms, I can say it’s refreshing. You move away from your legacy UI to more Dynamic UI where information or Alerts are presented on tiles. Each application or alert occupies its own space without any clutter. Your current application occupies the entire screen space, no restriction or borders of any nature. Microsoft is finally embracing Cloud and Social Networking. The integration with the OS is flawless. You don’t need to visit multiple apps to see you social updates.
So what’s the issue in migrating the same UI to desktop??
“I don’t have my Start button” “Windows 8 have dual character – Windows 8 UI and the legacy Desktop”
The complaints contradict each other. You hate the Windows 8 UI but on top you complain it still has the Desktop environment.
“I miss the Start button” “Navigation is painful” “No clue how to switch between open applications” “How do I shut down my Desktop?” “UI works best on touch enabled devices”
Let’s rewind. DOS to Windows 3.1, Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. Did we (applicable only for those who have used these versions ) completely boycott these versions? Let History answer that.
Microsoft is readying Windows for the new touch enabled devices that are launching in coming years. Change always is painful and frustrating. But change is inevitable in moving forward and embracing the new. Apple said we will not support Flash, we made noise, competitors advertised, with Flash support their devices have an edge on Apple’s. But, where are we now? Adobe itself have decided no more mobile flash releases. All major vendors and mobile OS now are moving to HTML5. Will we stop there? No. Something more appealing and innovative will come and we will move to that.
For those complain about missing ‘Start button’ and ‘confusing navigation’
I’ll take the “adaptability” behaviour of human beings to counter that. We are better known for our adaptability. People have switched from Symbian OS to Android. Android to iOS. iOS to Android(inviting criticism ). Those who have done that switch knows that we struggled for the first 5 days or max 10 days in getting ourselves to adapt to the new environment. By this time frame we would have mastered all that is required to accomplish our day-to-day activities. Later, we stumble upon on few occasions when we use a new feature on the Device. But did we stopped there and dumped the new Device complaining about that? We have spent our hard money on that purchase. We moved on, until we find our next craze!! .
On usability of Windows 8 – My below 10-year-old kid uses the new Windows environment with as ease as Ubuntu …occasional Windows XP…. and iOS. Yes the kid didn’t have an easy time on first usage, but learned when I demonstrated.
Now let’s take two groups of users who may migrate to Windows 8
The numbers depend heavily on this category. Anybody on a Windows XP/Vista will definitely switch to Windows 8 without any complaints. Those who are on Windows 7 are the ones who think twice, but ultimately switch when the “use the latest” syndrome grows over them.
Users who are purchasing their next device – a Desktop or a Tablet or a Mobile
On multiple instances I have seen on show rooms people insisting on getting new Versions of Software on their Desktops or Laptops when they are making a purchase. They seems to be complaining or ignoring those which were shipping with an old version when a new version is already available or have announced. So with this mentality this category will definitely ask for Windows 8 to be available on their potential devices.
But how many of the customers opt for a new Desktop is a different question. As people are more inclined to go for a Laptop/netbook or a tablet now a days. The latter is the most preferred one. So when Windows 8 tablets launches that area is covered.
So Windows 8 will be a failure?
In my viewpoint and the facts that I have analysed it will not be a failure. People will adapt with their new OS.
- The timing of Windows 8 also is in favour. Its launch coincides with the majority of Windows XP users who are without any active support from Microsoft, Third parties and Device manufactures.
- The UI as such is ready for Touch enabled devices which will be the ones you see in future.
- Also for the content consuming user base which are in majority. Windows 8 is covered well in those areas.
- Enterprise users will go for it, as naturally all the new Desktops & Laptops will come pre-loaded with Windows 8. Integration into existing IT Infrastructure also favours them. But Enterprises don’t jump to a new Version as soon as it is launched, it takes almost near to a year when they migrate. Some may still stick to Windows 7 until it phases out.
Windows 8 if it fails it will not be because of the new UI, but it depends on the numbers that will sell.
So all those who are wasting their energy complaining about Windows 8 – options left are either switch to a Mac or be more productive and come together and a design a new OS itself. Ultimately, necessity or frustration is the trigger for innovation or invention.
- Installing Windows 8 on your old PC could turn it into Greased Lightning (zdnet.com)
- 8 tips to make your Windows 8 upgrade a more pleasant experience (zdnet.com)
- Even Windows 8 early adopters prefer Windows 7 by two to one (zdnet.com)
- Upgrading to Windows 8: What you need to know (FAQ) – CNET (reviews.cnet.com)