That yawn over Windows 8 you might have heard at midnight when Microsoft Corp.’s new desktop operating system became available didn’t only come from Apple and Android.
It also came from CIOs and corporate IT departments.
The OS that Microsoft is betting its future on, one that presents a unified face on Windows PCs, tablets and smart phones, has a lot of end user interest according to Forrester research analyst. David Johnson. But not from IT.
“We don’t think it’s going to hit 50 per cent” adoption in North American and European enterprises, he said in an interview Thursday as Microsoft’s pre-release launch event in New York was going on.
In fact, he believes Win8 will be skipped over as a PC standard by most companies.
“There’s about half the interest at this point in the early cycle of Windows 8 than there was for Windows 7 among IT decision makers, he said,” based on a Forrester survey of 1,282 hardware decision makers in North American and European companies.
Only 4 per cent of respondents had specific plans to deploy Win 8 in the next 12 months. Another 5 per cent will deploy it, but not before the third quarter of next year. Ten per cent said they’ll skip Win8 for the next release.
“One of the challenges that IT faces is most are in the midst of their Windows 7 migration right now,” Johnson said. “They don’t have time to be distracted by Windows 8.”
In part, that’s due to the new tile opening screen, which a number of critics say works well on touch devices but makes little sense on a PC or laptop. Forrester believes many IT organizations that do support Win8 will lock the new interface out so users will boot into the traditional Windows screen.
Not only that, Forrester suspects resistance to the new face may be so great Microsoft might be forced to find a way to issue a version of Win8 with the legacy front-end.
“IT wants “something reliable, known and trusted, something that’s going to be stable for a long period of time,” Johnson said. The refresh cycle for PCs is four or five years, so in the eyes of IT departments Win7 has lots of life left in it.
From Microsoft’s point of view, Johnson said, the best chance for Win8 enterprise adoption is that employees bring laptops and tablets into the office.
He also agreed that’s IT’s nightmare. If it happens that would force a number of companies to formalize BYOD policies.
They included tablets using Windows 8 Pro that were said to be “enterprise-ready” to a laptop with a touch screen that starts at US$499.
CEO Steve Ballmer called it “an exciting, exciting day” that marked “a new era for Microsoft.
“No doubt Windows 8 shatters the perception of what a PC is,” he said.
Forrester also has a prediction IT managers won’t like: With Apple’s OS X and Google’s Chrome OS for PC-like devices being updated annual, Microsoft will have give up its three-year development cycle for its desktop OS.
Coming in 2014: Windows 9. Be warned.