First came the heavy adoption of Apple's mobile platform by consumers whose heavy use of the devices for business tasks forced the IT operations at their companies to support them. Android was the next mobile platform pushed onto IT and now comes Windows 8, Microsoft's latest effort to keep its PC empire intact and gain market share in mobile devices.
For Gartner, the arrival of Windows 8 makes the "mobile device battles" its top technology trend for 2013. Gartner announced its list of Top 10 tech trends at its annual IT/expo in Orlando this week.
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The battle among mobile device vendors for the attention of consumers is forcing IT managers into increasing heterogeneity.
Tom Minifie, CTO at a software vendor he asked not to be named, said developers at his company have built Apple and Android mobile apps for employees, including a smartphone tool that can separate workplace and personal communications. Minifie said the company has no immediate plans to support Windows-based mobile devices. Officials will first watch to see how adoption goes.
He noted, when asked, that the decision isn't a chicken and egg problem. A lack of apps shouldn't deter users from adopting Windows-based devices if they want. He referred to the past history of employees at the company who bought Apple and Android devices before they were supported by IT. "They still went out and got them because there were compelling devices for personal use," he said.
Gartner also predicts that on legacy devices "90 percent of enterprises will bypass broadscale deployment of Windows 8 through at least 2014," said Peter Sondergaard, who heads up Gartner's research operation.
David Cappuccio, an analyst at Gartner, said that the Windows 8 forecast is not a ding against Microsoft.
"Every group of employees has different needs," said Cappuccio.
Salespeople or some executives may want a tablet, other workers may only need a smartphone, and in some cases they may be using their personal device. "We can either force standardization," said Cappuccio, "or you can open things up and let people let people do what they want within reason."
David Cearley, an analyst at Gartner, unveiled the researcher's 2012 Top 10 list, which represents strategic trends the company believes will impact IT over the next several years, on Tuesday.
The list follows:
One: Mobile devices
By next year, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. Does this mean mobile devices will replace PCs? Yes and no, says Gartner. Some IT departments may only need to support mobile devices for specific workers whose jobs require them while the rest continue to use PCs. But, Gartner adds, the rise of mobile devices does signal the end of Windows as the single corporate platform.