Microsoft is taking a risk with its new Windows 8 that is radically different from the traditional Windows platform, according to analyst firm Gartner.
With Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to address the excitement of the tablet market by adding a tablet interface to Windows.
"Microsoft's approach is very different from Apple's and Google's, where phones and tablets have much more commonality than PCs and tablets," said Michael Silver, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
"This plays to Microsoft's strength in PCs, leveraging it not only to enter the tablet market, but also to improve its share of the smartphone market," added Silver.
For Microsoft, the release of Windows 8 is not just any release. "It's the start of a new era for Microsoft - the RT era - which follows the NT era, which began in 1993 and is just now starting to fade out. Microsoft eras seem to run about 20 years, so the technology underlying Windows 8 will last a long, long time," said Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner.
Same fate as Vista?
But the big question is whether Windows 8 will have a familiar fate as Windows Vista, a version that also adopted a radical overhaul. Vista never gained significant success in corporate environments. Gartner estimates that just eight percent of PCs run by Gartner clients ran Vista at its peak
Microsoft licensing is also an important topic in many organisations because it can represent a significant percentage of the annual IT budget. Organisations need to decide if they require Software Assurance (SA) on Windows or an Enterprise Agreement as well as reevaluate their decisions based on changes Microsoft is making to the Windows 8 SKU lineup and SA benefits.
"Windows 8 has been released to manufacturing and will be formally launched in October, but the reality is that most organisations are still working on eliminating Windows XP and deploying Windows 7," said Silver. "Organisations will need to decide whether they continue with Windows 7 and or consider Windows 8."
Gartner believes that if Windows 8 on tablets is successful, it will create multiple impacts on organisations. There will be many new device form factors to choose from and users may have very different needs and likes from one another. Some will still want to use an iPad and a traditional notebook and others may want different, new devices. As users gain more power, due to consumerisation, IT is less able to mandate that certain products be used or not used in their environment.
This makes it harder for IT to buy and support PCs the way they have for the past 20 years and may lead to more BYOD programmes. Organisations also need to decide whether they want to create applications expressly for Windows 8 and Metro, write iOS applications, or something more neutral.
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