Windows 8′s Mobile Strategy Set to Pay Off

    By Joe Hewitson | Small Business

    Windows 8′s Mobile Strategy Set to Pay Off image windows 8Windows 8′s Mobile Strategy Set to Pay Off

    Microsoft’s newest operating system, dubbed Windows 8, has been available for some time, yet enterprise adoption has been tepid at best. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, however, as we’ve seen similar trends with previous Windows releases, especially those that incorporate core changes like user interface. You might recall the less-than-stellar reception Windows Vista received only six short years ago.

    If we look at the cold, hard facts provided by Xbit Laboratories, we see that Windows 8 was only used on a paltry 2.26% of devices within its first two months, while its previous iteration (Windows 7) sprinted to 4% after a mere two weeks. While those numbers elicit an underwhelming feeling, it’s Microsoft’s focus on mobile strategies that gives its new OS real excitement and potential for success.

    Don’t count Microsoft out yet

    With this in mind, we should be careful not to earmark Windows 8 as the next Vista. Proclaiming that kind of doom and gloom would just be foolish, and you’d have to completely ignore the fact that Windows 8 has a very interesting trick up its sleeve: the power of bring your own device (BYOD). With its newest OS, Microsoft has attempted to unify its desktop and mobile platforms by enabling versions of its flagship software to run on myriad devices.

    This includes ARM and Intel-based tablets, smartphones, and ultrabooks, which have received their fair share of glowing reviews lately. Mobile devices running an enterprise-class software fill a much-needed hole that, up until now, went largely unaddressed by tablet and smartphone makers. By putting mobile devices in the hands of consumers that are capable of playing nice in an enterprise environment, Microsoft could begin to see accelerated growth as companies see the benefits of a secure BYOD culture.

    Despite Microsoft’s efforts, there appears to be a few key elements keeping enterprise IT professionals from pulling the trigger on its latest OS and the mobile devices it runs on. The first and potentially biggest reason this new OS is off to such a slow start is directly related to the paltry app selection it launched with. It’s no secret that in today’s app-centric culture, the success of a new mobile platform relies heavily on the quantity of quality apps it offers. After all, what good does it do you to put a shiny new Surface tablet in the hands of employees if the only thing they’re able to use it for is solitaire? On the bright side, it looks as if that detractor could be alleviated soon as reports substantial growth ahead for Windows 8 app development.

    Microsoft might also have done itself a disservice by launching its Surface RT months before the Surface Pro. Among other differences, the Surface Pro includes an Intel processor which allows it to sidestep the small app selection issue by giving users the ability to run traditional desktop applications as well. That’s quite a powerful feature to leave out of the initial offering and one that might have left a bad taste with early enterprise adopters. Couple that with an oftentimes tight budget thanks to the recent recession and you begin to understand the hesitation Windows 8 has faced.

    The strengths of Windows 8

    What this new version of Windows does have going for it is a slick interface and mammoth company willing to pump in the necessary resources to make it a success. When all is said and done, enterprise IT is looking for a mobile OS that can seamlessly integrate with existing desktop and network infrastructure while also providing enough security options to remain viable. This is where Windows 8 could truly hit a home run and where Microsoft has clearly done its homework.

    Never before has a major operating system provided such an identical user experience on both a desktop and mobile level. In the case of the Surface Pro, users are running the exact same operating system as they are on their desktop without any compromises. When it comes to Windows phones and the Surface RT, users are still getting a very similar experience and, in many cases, are able to run the same programs as long as they appear in the Microsoft app store. This unparalleled integration is exactly what Microsoft is banking their new OS on and should certainly catch the attention of enterprise decision makers looking for a mobile solution.

    Only time will tell if Microsoft’s gamble on mobile devices will pay off, but you’d be hard pressed to find a company better suited to overcome such slow adoption rates.

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