Widespread Windows 8 adoption by businesses is years away, primarily because it is so different from Windows 7 that the learning curve for end-users will be a nightmare, experts say.
Gartner says in a report coming out later this week that 90 percent of enterprises will bypass wholesale deployment of Windows 8 at least through 2014.
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A desktop consultant to businesses says he doesn't expect to recommend Windows 8 to customers for a year or two. "There's nothing for the task worker that Windows 8 is going to improve on," says Pete Lee, Engagement Manger of SWC Technologies, a software development and desktop consulting firm in Oak Brook, Ill., which is a Microsoft Gold Partner.
The difficulties stem from the many small ways Windows 7 differs from Windows 8, says Georges Khairallah, a network specialist at the Chino Valley Unified School District in Chino Valley, Calif., who has been using Windows 8 for weeks to administer his network. While the differences didn't affect him adversely, he thinks they would have a crippling effect on end users.
"It's going to be traumatic, I think," he says, "especially if the organization doesn't have an excellent training program for users."
That doesn't mean the new operating system won't have immediate niche applications that make it worth deploying to certain segments of employees, particularly among mobile workers and in cases where navigating by touchscreen is important, Lee says.
He thinks there are good reasons for certain types of jobs to be supported by Windows 8, and he can see Windows 8 being deployed more widely in businesses with large sales and marketing staffs that are mobile.
The operating system could prove valuable to remote and traveling workers who in addition to doing work on portable Windows 8 machines would use them for personal business and entertainment as well. The Windows 8 machine could serve the purpose of a business laptop as well as a notebook for work and a personal tablet used for messaging, music, games that would otherwise call for a separate device, he says.
He could see a business deploying Windows 8 for such workers while keeping Windows 7 on traditional desktops to avoid training as well as the costs of deploying new operating systems and the hardware upgrades that it might require.