Seven Reasons Businesses Should Not Upgrade to Windows 8

Last month, conservative Microsoft released Windows 8 and Windows RT; for them, these radical new operating systems represent a major break with the past. If you’ve used Apple’s iPad or Google’s Android, you’ll recognize the general style of the interface. And if you’re smart, at least for now, you won’t put it on your company’s computers. I probably don’t need to tell you this, as many companies are already very conservative about upgrades; personally, I try to never get a new operating system from Microsoft until at least the first service pack comes out. Windows 8 and Windows RT bring with them certain capabilities (and lack of capabilities) that give you reasons to be especially cautious. In fact, here are seven of them: 1. Your data may end up on Microsoft’s servers. Both Windows 8 and Windows RT come with SkyDrive accounts, which is Microsoft’s version of cloud computing. While it’s possible to store data on the local computer in Windows 8, it’s also possible to store it in your SkyDrive account and not realize it. If you want to be able work with the data on another device, this could be a good thing…but it might not be so good if you’re trying to secure sensitive and/or proprietary information. 2. You may have to re-educate your workers. Make no mistake, for all of Microsoft’s insistence that Windows 8 offers users a smooth, intuitive experience, this operating system comes with a learning curve; not being able to access the Start button is only the beginning. All users get a “local” screen and a “Microsoft” screen, with the latter being the one accessed from Microsoft’s servers via SkyDrive. There’s also a way to access a desktop that looks almost exactly like the Windows 7 desktop. Aside from these different views, users get around and accomplish tasks differently on Windows 8 than they do on Windows 7. Keyboards and mice do work, but touch plays much more of a role, and Windows 8 uses the sides, top and bottom of your display in ways that Windows 7 did not. It doesn’t present a smooth transition. One IT person of my acquaintance recommended against using Windows 8 on your priimary system for exactly this reason; you need time to learn your way around – time that takes away from getting work done. 3. The software you need may not continue to work. Microsoft has pledged that all of the software that works with Windows 7 will work with Windows 8. That’s wonderful – if you’ve already upgraded to Windows 7. If you’re currently using an older operating system, you may be out of luck. Worse, if you’re thinking about using Windows RT, guess what? None of your Windows 7 software will work; in fact, you will only be able to use apps purchased from the Microsoft Store. On the up side, you will probably be able to use certain productivity apps, such as Office 2013, but the store currently doesn’t have the range of apps that you can find, say, in Apple’s or Google’s app stores. To be fair, Microsoft’s app store just opened, but that’s all the more reason to wait and see. 4. Speaking of waiting and seeing, if you’ve already upgraded to Windows 7, you’re in great shape. Microsoft will support Win 7 through January 2020. That’s more than seven years from now, which is plenty of time to see what other people are saying about Windows 8, watch it evolve, and perhaps try it out on a test system before launching it throughout your enterprise. 5. If you need your workers to use exactly the same kinds of desktops (software-wise), Windows 8 may make it too easy to make changes. Recently, while watching a live stream of Microsoft’s Windows 8 launch event in New York, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how easy the company has made it to acquire a new app from the Microsoft Store, try it out, and uninstall it later. I started seeing problems with office workers customizing their desktops more than eight  years ago. Naturally, these machines stopped working quite so well with all the unauthorized “crud” they accumulated – which often led to a call to IT, for some poor soul to come in and fix the problem. Usually they removed the offending changes…which the worker would then restore later, and the cycle would continue. You don’t need this kind of headache. 6. I already covered this in part in my first point above, but it bears repeating: workers can easily move data in their SkyDrive account “cloud” from one Microsoft device to another — which could be a security issue. Again, you don’t need this kind of headache. 7. There’s another issue with software that I didn’t mention in my third point above. Along with possibly having to wait for the applications you need, you should be aware that third-party apps are a “work in progress,” as noted by John Morris at ZDNet . He noted that the Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox apps are early betas and not yet available; there are currently no official clients for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn; and other categories are “hit or miss,” with the news apps lacking both The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Some of the ones that are present are currently “kludgy.” Windows 8 may well be where the future of operating systems is heading; many users did, in fact, have some nice things to say about it. But in my opinion, it’s not quite ready for business yet, so feel free to wait, or event test it out. For general use at your company, though, you’d best stick with Windows 7.