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How to solve 4 impending Windows 8 problems

John Brandon | June 12, 2013
Enterprises have been slow to adopt Windows 8--and when they have, they've encountered migration, usability, security and hardware issues. Luckily, these challenges aren't impossible to overcome.

Are you in crisis mode with Windows 8? Join the club.

According to Net Applications, Windows 8 market share is less than 4.3 percent. This is a slow gain from a few months ago, but it's still nowhere near the uptick in sales that Windows 7 enjoyed over a similar period.

It gets worse. Just recently, PC management company Soluto released a report with two starting findings: 44 percent of Windows 8 users don't bother to open a Metro app more than once per month, and 60 percent of desktop and laptop users running Windows 8 don't ever use any Metro apps at all. ( Metro is the touch-enabled tile interface that's the biggest change in the new operating system.)

Enterprises aren't exactly clamoring for Windows 8-and once they do deploy the upgrade, there are problems with migration, usability, security and hardware. Fortunately, for each Windows 8 problem, there is a remedy.

Windows 8 Problem No. 1: Usability Considerations

Solution: Invest in training programs.

The first challenge after deploying Windows 8 is lack of training before a rollout that surprises end users with a new UI. Fortunately, this can be circumvented, says David Chew, solutions architect at Unisys.

When a user first starts his laptop or desktop, he's greeted by the Metro UI. Tiles splash across the screen showing touch apps like a new photo program and a new touch browser. IT shops should expect users to wonder where their most common apps are now located, Chew says, including Microsoft Word and Excel.

"Windows 8 and the Office Suite are so functionally rich that an organization does a disservice to itself and its end users if it skimps on investing in showing workers how to get the most out of the new environment for workplace productivity," he says.

Windows 8 Problem No. 2: Controlling, Managing Apps

Solution:Use secure app stores and APPX app packaging.

Windows 8 crosses the divide between consumers and the enterprise. After all, the OS looks remarkably similar no matter which version you use. Kevin Watkins, CTO and cofounder of Appthority, a company that makes a secure enterprise app store, says the dilemma facing IT admins is that legit work apps sit alongside social games.

"Developers now have to rely on ad networks to monetize, which means there's more temptation to obtain data from their users so they can sell it," Watkins says. "Windows 8 is bringing bring-your-own-device app risk to the laptop and desktop world. CIOs must look at Windows 8 software the same way they look at iOS and Android apps," he says.

Chew agrees, suggesting that businesses must deal with the reality of cross-pollinated apps. Some are designed for touch, some are designed for desktop and some are designed for both. There has to be a business process in place to deal with the differences.


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