After testing it out for a few days, it's very easy to see that Windows 8 was built for consumers, not business users. But should businesses avoid it altogether? Here's my rundown of the pros and cons of Windows 8 for business:
- Fast boot and shutdown times. You can boot-up in as little as 8 seconds. Imagine how many productive minutes that might add to your week?
- Works with multiple devices. Windows 8 was built for touch screens and traditional PCs. The Metro interface (native tile screen) is optimized for touch devices, whereas the desktop interface (desktop app) is better suited for mouse-and-keyboard PC use. Additionally, your preferences, settings and apps are all synchronized when you use the same account to log in on multiple devices.
- Runs on existing hardware. You don't have to go out and buy a new computer if you want to get your hands on Windows 8. I'm testing it out on a six-year-old laptop, and it runs great.
- Enhanced security. I won't go into the nitty gritty, but Microsoft has taken great measures to make the newest version of Windows safer than its predecessors. You can (hopefully) look forward to less malware and other security issues when you use Windows 8.
Further reading: Windows 8 Features Businesses will Love (from IT Business Edge)
- Lack of business-friendly features. Like I said in the beginning of this post, Windows 8 is geared towards consumers, and it doesn't bring many new features to the table for business users.
- Learning curve. Windows 8 is monumentally different than its earlier versions. Navigating the interface is nothing like Windows 7. Case in point: it took me 2 minutes to figure out how to shut down my device. The start menu is gone. The desktop you've known for years has been replaced by a tile screen (unless you use the desktop "app"). Key functions are hidden away in a series of menus along the edges of the screen. If you decide to transition to Windows 8, be prepared to invest in retraining for your staff.
- Awkward interface. This holds true especially on older devices. The tile screen interface was made for touch devices, and using a mouse seems downright awkward. Some of the tiles (weather, maps, photos) are distracting for business users, and there's no way to resize the tiles and make them smaller.
- App compatibility issues: There is no Windows XP mode in Windows 8. If you have applications that only run in older versions of Windows, you're out of luck.
So the big question is, should you consider using Windows 8 in your organization? Maybe...in baby steps. Windows 8 will be great for "road warriors" and other mobile workers who need a powerful computing experience on a tablet, but I would wait until all the bugs are worked out before rolling it out to your entire organization.