Windows 8: To Convert or not to Convert?
There’s bound to be controversy whenever Microsoft introduces a new version of Windows. People complain about the new interface, about compatibility issues, and more. However, the controversy usually dies down after a while as consumers and businesses alike make the switch. Windows 8, on the other hand, has now been out for a year and a half, and the debate about it is still hot. When looking at your own business, is converting to the new Windows worth it?
One thing that Windows 8 offers over previous versions of the operating system is more system speed and better memory management than ever before. This is due in large part to the interface being optimized for use on mobile devices, which don’t have the luxury of massive amounts of processing power that you would find on a typical office computer. If you have done everything you can to optimize your business computers and your employees are still encountering slowdown, a switch to the faster Windows 8 might be in the cards for you. This is especially true if your company makes heavy use of laptops and tablets that need to run memory-intensive programs.
Windows 8 is designed specifically for mobile platforms, so it can be a boon if you plan on making remote networking a focus in the future. Remote Utilities is compatible with Windows 8, and this will allow you to set up a fast, responsive mobile network in an easier manner than ever before. The enhanced Explorer has a lot of different options that make things easier for mobile users. For example, the ability to pause file transfers mid-copy can be helpful if you’re using the network on a bus or train. When you hit a dead spot, you can pause the transfer rather than let it time out and get canceled automatically due to a network error.
One of the murkier areas with Windows 8 is the realm of security. On the one hand, the operating system introduces a number of new options, such as the ability to have a password picture, which makes it more difficult than ever before for hackers to gain access to a machine. On the other hand, the operating system is at a particularly high risk of attracting spyware that can slow down performance dramatically. Compounding this problem is the fact that Microsoft bombards the user with ads whenever a user opens certain programs. While the ads are mostly just an annoyance, more ads means more potential security issues and a slower network performance overall.
One of the biggest criticisms of Windows 8 is that the operating system has a lot of compatibility problems with other programs. Moreover, the original version of the system had internal compatibility issues as well. The “Metro” apps were riddled with inconsistencies on launch, to the point that Metro Mail couldn’t connect with a Microsoft Exchange server, the metro version of Internet Explorer had no Flash support, and so on. Some of these problems have been cleaned up with Windows 8.1, but many still linger. If you plan on instituting Windows 8 as the primary operating system for your business, you should be aware of the built-in software limitations and how they might affect your business.
Lack of Familiarity
As with most Windows versions, the interface of Windows 8 is different from what came before, and this has caused the majority of gripes with users. The difference in this version versus any of the other editions of this operating system is that the changes are more than just a few cosmetic alterations. For example, the ever-useful Star menu which has been a feature from the very beginning has been hidden away as an app in Windows 8. When you do access the menu, you will find that it doesn’t work the way it used to, making programs much more difficult to run. This is something that experience can help employees deal with, but you may need to provide some training to get people up to speed fast.
So should you make the switch to Windows 8? The answer lies in your business model. If you are a mobile-focused company that has the resources to make sure everybody is fully trained on the new interface, you will find that Windows 8 provides a lot of perks and only a few drawbacks. Smaller companies that use remote tools less often might not find the transition worth it. As Windows 8 becomes the norm, those businesses might seek an alternative operating system. The ultimate choice, however, relies on the specifics of your business.