Businesses Not Enthusiastic about Adopting Windows 8

Those with definite plans to upgrade is half the rate of those planning to move to Windows 7.

Forrester Research says businesses might not be as enthusiastic about adopting Windows 8 that they have been about earlier the previous version of the operating system.

The warning signs come from a comparison of two surveys that measured responses of North American and IT hardware decision-makers. Those Forrester surveys were conducted near the time of the Windows 7 launch in 2009 and the Windows 8 launch in 2012.

Almost half (49 percent) of respondents told the researchers that they expected to move to Windows 7 (though at the time they had no specific plans to do so) in the first survey, a figure that drops to just 24 percent in the 2012 survey about Windows 8.

Windows 8 enthusiasm also seemed low when the researchers measured the number of respondents who had definite plant to upagrade. In the 2009 survey, 10 percent of respondents said they had definite migration plans (to Windows 7), but the second survey found that for Windows 8 plans, the figure dropped to just five percent..

Forrester researchers have a few ideas about the reasons IT decision-makers are less keen about moving to Windows 8. First, IT pros have already faced an "expensive process" of moving from Windows XP to Windows 7. Second, although Windows 8 offers security improvements over Windows 7, those features aren't worth the effort. Moreover, the dual-user interface of Windows 8 could require additional training, an expense or potential time drain for IT.

Forrester recommends companies stick to their Windows 7 migration plans. At the same time, IT should prepare to accommodate bring-your-own-device (BYOD) scenarios for employees. Windows 8 is expected by Forrester to encourage the BYOD phenomenon.

The Forrester report, "Windows: The Next Five Years," published last month, contends that when considering all personal computing devices, Microsoft's Windows operating system market share has shrunk to about 30 percent; the OS is, being displaced by the popularity and growth of Google Android and Apple iOS devices. Still, Windows 8 "will take hold in 2014," the report predicts.

Forrester attributes the slow rise of Windows 8, in part, to the OS's new WinRT platform. Developers have needed a least a year to adjust to Microsoft's platform shift, according to the report.

Microsoft currently has fewer than 10,000 Windows 8 apps in the Windows App Store compared to Apple’s 275,000 apps in the Apple Store, says Forrester. Currently, Windows RT machines can count on having access to only 4,000 apps in the Windows App Store, according the research and consulting firm.

Microsoft will still dominate the PC operating system market, but it will take until 2016 for it to gain parity in the personal computing device market with Google and Apple's mobile operating systems, according to the Windows report, which was written by Frank Gillett. Still, a big point of Forrester's Windows study is that OS dominance will be less important in the emerging mobile computing device market. Instead, platform vendors will measure success by selling cloud-based services, where subscriber numbers will be important.

"New metrics will be revenue and profit per user, not device OS share," according to the Windows report.

Gillett explained in his report that Windows RT devices have a number of limitations compared with x86-based Windows 8 systems, although Windows RT products, which run on ARM-based hardware, tend to excel in terms of battery lifespans. However, that advantage might not last so long. Gillett noted that Intel is planning to ship its code-named "Haswell" processors in the summer of 2013. Devices based on Intel's Haswell chips are expected to bring notable power-use improvements, according to Gillett.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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