Even in the best of times, businesses don't like upgrading their PC operating systems. The process is expensive and time-consuming, and usually demands retraining a technically challenged workforce. And now Windows 8 threatens to make workplace system swaps even less attractive than before.
Between the removal of the familiar Start button and the addition of a decidedly non-intuitive tiled interface, Windows 8 has struck fear in the hearts of IT managers worldwide. As a result, few businesses appear to be planning Windows 8 upgrades.
Nevertheless, if you're in the market for new PCs or even an operating system upgrade, there are a number of reasons why your business may benefit from accepting Windows 8. Of course, adopting any new OS imposes a learning curve on users, but once your workforce gets comfortable with Windows 8, its benefits can outweigh its drawbacks.
1. Touchscreen interface
An obvious difference between Windows 8 and its predecessors is its completely revamped interface. The Modern UI (formerly known as "Metro") is designed first and foremost with touch input in mind.
With a tablet or touchscreen desktop monitor, Windows 8 supports cool options such as handwritten note-taking in OneNote and commenting on a Word document by hand using digital ink. Furthermore, once you get used to Windows 8's touch and swipe conventions, the touch-based controls enable you to navigate the OS very effectively. With a tap-and-drag gesture, you can use two apps simultaneously, for example, so you can check email and edit an Excel spreadsheet at the same time. (Here's a closer look at Windows 8 gesture commands.)
From a business perspective, though, the greatest appeal of the touchscreen interface is the new possibilities it opens for Windows 8 PCs. Functions for which many businesses may currently be considering iPad or Android tablets to accomplish could be performed from a Windows 8 tablet or from a PC equipped with a touchscreen monitor. Windows 8 can be used at interactive kiosks, or to enable a salesperson in the field to collect a customer's signature directly on the display.
One of the most common headaches for Windows users--particularly mobile users trying to work from customer sites or remote locations--is finding and connecting to a network. Microsoft has made improvements in Windows 8 that make accomplishing this task easier and more intuitive.
First, whether you tap the network icon from the Settings charm on the Modern UI charms bar or click it in the System Tray in desktop mode, it pulls up a panel that fills the right quarter of the screen top to bottom. At the top is something familiar, but new to Windows--Airplane Mode. Enabling this option shuts down all wireless communications, which comes in handy when you're using a tablet or laptop on the road.
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