Sunday, 18 November 2012

Win8 Don't get hung up about touch

With the launch of Surface and the raise in profile that this has given to Windows 8 (RT) I feel compelled to expand beyond my customary 140 characters or less and write a blog post.

There are a lot of people, some who should know better, banging on about how great Windows 8 is now that they have touch screens to use it on, how it transforms the interface and this is the only way that Windows 8 will be any use to anyone and the only way that it is likely to be embraced in home and enterprise. Crap.

On Friday (16th Nov 2012) I made a presentation to our management and IT on why we were going to move to Windows 8 and how long it will take. For info, we have 6000 PCs. They bought it. We won't be rushing out and buying touchcreens and we won't be buying Surface RT, maybe some Win8 Pro Surface in the future, we'll see.

Windows 8 is GA, it runs on the same hardware as Win7, and 99% of the apps that run on Win7 will run on 8. We are still on XP, like many enterprises, so we are looking at a sensible roadmap that has Windows 8 ready for deployment to the business by the end of June 2013 and finished by April 2014. This should give us a desktop that will take us through 2020. If we deployed Win 7 then we would have a 5 year old desktop o/s !

IT will have Win8 by January 2013, business users will be in beta by April and everything done by the following April 2014. Most of our users will have had some exposure to Windows 8 before then, either at home, college or in test. It won't be a new and strangely different o/s, certainly not the wrench that was Office 2003 to Office2007 , and to be honest while users may have initially moaned it didn't take them long to adapt.

As to the user interface: look at it closely, it's not that different in real terms, a bunch of icons (tiles) that link to programs (apps) that run either full screen or drop to desktop, with me so far?
No start button, gasp, shock, horror, but hey, move your pointer to where the start button used to be and you see the start screen thumbnail, which you remember is just a bunch of icons that link to programs. Power users right click and get shortcuts to the advanced features. So far so good. The bottom right corner where all the other stuff like time, running apps also has a menu (charms) that, you fairly quickly suss out, let you change either app or PC settings and shutdown, restart etc. The top left corner lets you see and close apps that are running full screen. Every action is easily controlled with a standard mouse and combo's of left and right clicks, finding apps is fantastic, just type their name or the first few letters and choose, in fact it works better with keyboard and mouse than with having to keep raising your arm to prod at the screen.

So to cut to the chase, give it a try without a touchscreen and you'll find it not hard at all and actually a joy to use. Those that are writing about how rubbish it is without touch, you haven't actually used it, have you? I for one will not be rushing out to buy a touchscreen monitor, I can't think of anything worse than having a 24" screen covered in greasy fingerprints, have you seen what some of the business users eat at their desks?

Windows 8, it's not that different, it doesn't need a touchscreen and once you start using it you'll find that you don't want to go back.

P.S. Three compelling reasons for the Enterprise to adopt Win 8

  • Bitlocker
  • Windows to go
  • Direct Access on IPV4

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