Friday, 12 December 2014

It’s premature to talk about Windows 10 in the workplace

It needs everyone, not just the enthusiasts, to be comfortable with an OS

People in the PC business are getting excited about next year’s full release Windows 10 – even though Microsoft is not yet being precise about the date – with hopes that it’s going to win back the good will of users who have scorned Windows 8.

I don’t doubt Microsoft’s ability to learn from its past mistakes, but think it’s premature to talk about Windows 10 making a big impact on the workplace. Any sensible business is going to be careful about becoming an early adopter of the new operating system.

The enthusiasm has been fuelled by reports that hardware manufacturer and developers are happy with what they have seen, but that doesn’t mean that regular users will share their enthusiasm. Windows 8 received plenty of positive reviews on its release, but now it’s generally acknowledged to have been a bad move.

The reason for this is the difference in outlooks between professional techies and the everyday user. The former group, whether they are manufacturers, developers or reviewers, spend their working lives wrapped up in IT and could appreciate what Microsoft was trying to do with Windows 8. They were better equipped to make the mental leap in dealing with the new interface and using the system.

But most people are not so well equipped. They regard a computer as a tool, not a little wonderbox to be explored, and like any tool they want it to be easy to use. Microsoft made too many changes in the leap from Windows 7 to 8, not just in the interfaces and detail, but how it asked its users to think. Most people found it a little scary and backed away, leading IT managers to decide that it would be more trouble than it was worth.

Which is why I can’t see a rush to migrate to Windows 10, however good the early reviews may be. Even if it does the job and tablets, organisations want an OS that employees are comfortable in using, and they’re going to wait for months or years to assess the level of comfort. Most probably won’t make a switch until a lot of their employees are using the new OS on their own computers.

This won’t dampen the excitement when Microsoft shows off the system in January, but don’t expect that excitement to turn into widespread use in the workplace for some time.

Mark Say is a UK based writer who covers the role of information management and technology in business. See

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