IT: Watch who you're calling a fanboy

With today's release of Windows 8 and RT, we'll soon see if IT's love for Microsoft is based on rational judgment

Fanboy: It's a derogatory term that platform fanatics love to toss at those who prefer other platforms. Use a Mac ior iPad? You're an Apple fanboy. Use a Droid or Galaxy? You're a Google fanboy (or "phandroid"). Use Ubuntu? You're a Linux fanboy. Use Windows? You're a rational person.

At least, that's the common view in IT -- not the universal view, but a pervasive one. These IT folks say their aversion to non-Microsoft technology is based on rational factors, such as security considerations, standardization benefits, and the vast set of tools they have for Microsoft technologies. "Corporations that already use Windows and other Microsoft software are going to find staying with Windows when integrating mobile devices easier and more seamless than trying to change to something else," says one such IT pro.

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That's BS, of course, even if those are legitimate considerations. Companies routinely use Linux servers and VMware virtualization, for example, and nearly all (used to) deploy BlackBerry smartphones -- none is from Microsoft, and in fact all compete with Microsoft's own offerings. It's circular logic to argue that sticking with Microsoft is easier; that same thinking would have justified not using PCs, Ethernet, or the Internet. In fact, similar arguments were made against them. That rationalization is a sure path to obsolescence -- both technological and business.

Then there's the fact that Windows RT does not use Micrososoft's standard management technology. Instead, it requires Microsoft's separate, small-business-oriented Intune management tool or else is limited to basic Exchange ActiveSync policies -- making it less manageable and less securable than iOS or Android. Many in IT have complained that the iPhone's and iPad's iOS aren't truly enterprise-class because they don't use standard (that is, Microsoft) tools. However, that objection is mysteriously ignored for the RT platform by a large percentage of IT pros, as that survey reveals.

That's not to say Windows RT or 8 or Phone 8 don't have positive attributes. The ability to have multiple accounts in Windows 8 and RT could be a significant advantage compared to an iPad or Android tablet in many work environments, for example.

My point is that IT folks are just as emotional about products -- often moreso -- than regular users, though many won't admit to that truth. Consider a recent survey on IT's plans for mobile adoption: 46 percent said they would deploy Microsoft's unproven mobile technologies (Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone 8). Of those technologies, only Windows 8 had been available for hands-on assessment when the survey occurred, and it's widely loathed as confusing. (IT likes to fret over supporting iOS and Android; well, wait until it has Windows 8 in the mix.) And early reviews this week of the Windows RT-based Microsoft Surface panned its OS and apps as inadequate.

Windows Phone 8 doesn't yet exist -- the SDK is not even final, despite next week's expected release of the first Windows Phone 8 devices -- and Microsoft has kept this project highly secret. That's not the Microsoft way: Usually, we get a year of releases and a mind-numbing stream of blog posts. The secrecy on Windows Phone 8 suggests something is very wrong. IT may complain about Apple's hardware surprises, but Apple at least makes its mobile OS available for hands-on testing several months before its public debut.

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