Windows 8 Won’t Become Business Standard: Forrester

Windows 8 offers the “traditional” desktop, but it’s hidden behind a Start screen of colorful tiles linked to applications.

Windows 8 won’t become the enterprise standard, according to a new report from research firm Forrester.

“Most IT shops are still too focused on migrating to Windows 7 to bother with Windows 8 anytime soon, if at all,” read the summary of Forrester’s report, which could have several Microsoft executives reaching for the Valium this morning. “IT won’t set Windows 8 as a standard, but that won’t stop workers from using it.”

The research firm suggests that an operating-system version only becomes the “enterprise standard” once 50 percent of corporate-owned PCs actually run it. While Windows 7 passed that milestone, Forrester doesn’t think Windows 8 will do the same anytime soon, thanks in part to lower enterprise interest and the prevalence of Apple’s iOS on tablets.

“Early enterprise interest in Windows 8 is half that of Windows 7 prior to its release,” the summary suggested. “IT decision-makers don’t yet see the new Windows experience as an improvement.” The firm also doesn’t believe that Windows 8 “offers firms enough savings in operations to make it a top priority.”

Forrester hints that the gradual decline of the PC market, coupled with the rise of tablets such as Apple’s iPad, is also harming Windows 8’s corporate adoption. This is somewhat ironic, given how Windows 8 was designed to run on tablets and “traditional” PCs with equal facility, killing several birds with one exquisitely designed stone. However, there are indications that Windows 8’s bifurcated design (a Start screen of colorful tiles linked to applications, with the desktop only accessible via one of those tiles) could be alienating old-school PC users while failing to make gains in the tablet market.

“At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market,” Bob O’Donnell, a vice president at research firm IDC, wrote in an April research note. “While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices.”

IDC estimated worldwide PC shipments in the first quarter of 2013 at 76.3 million units, down 13.9 percent from the same quarter in 2012. It was the worst quarter in the research firm’s 19 years of tracking the PC market.

Microsoft’s upcoming update, Windows 8.1 (known for quite some time by its codename, “Windows Blue”) will—if rumors prove correct—reintroduce some features deleted between Windows 7 and 8, most notably the desktop Start button. Those reinsertions could help Windows 8 in the eyes of longtime Windows users who like things to stay familiar; but whether those tweaks boost Windows 8 adoption within the enterprise remains to be seen.

 

Image: Microsoft

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