What Microsoft did (and didn’t) learn from the auto industry / New PC for business Dilemma? / Why retail isn’t always best… And, will “Windows Blue” cure the Windows8 Blues?

One phenomenon we continue to observe here at RiteTech is what we call the “New PC Dilemma”.  Specifically, how a business handles PC replacements and upgrades during the “Windows 8” era.

At RiteTech, we offer a very simple guideline here.  “Just say No” – to Windows8.  Seriously.  There are only 1-2 very limited exceptions to this guidance, that will typically not apply in 99% of business scenarios.

First, let’s briefly recap the many reasons why we believe “No” is the right answer to Windows8.  Then, we’ll further describe what to say “Yes” to.

Windows8 (amazingly) removes the familiar “Start” menu and desktop graphical metaphor that pretty much everyone using a PC has been trained in, and grown accustomed to in the past 18+ years, since Windows95.  (Wow, 18+ years?  Has it really been that long?  I remember waiting in line at a “midnight madness” shopping event at a Staples in College Park, Maryland on the night that Windows95 was released to the general public… Ah, memories… but, I digress…)

The most common adjective that we continue to hear over and over when either end-users – or, even experienced IT technicians and systems administrators – attempt to describe getting used to Windows8 is – “frustrating.”.  We’ve heard multiple times from clients who have purchased Windows8 (or from their staffs, who have done the same) – the very long litany of complaints and frustrations about it, from everything about its user interface, to the fact that it seems to have incompatibility and reliability issues.

Microsoft’s stubborn, technically-unnecessary, and horribly wrong-headed decision to so radically alter Windows8’s default graphical environment has been – and is being – called many things – including “the worst new product fiasco since New Coke” (one of my favorites) – as well as simply, well, “essentially unsellable” in a business scenario – which is how it’s starting to look across business and corporate environments.  And, for good reason.  Most businesses now look at PCs as a necessary utility or a commodity – almost like purchasing a vehicle.  First of all, most businesses typically don’t want to purchase new vehicles until or unless they absolutely need to.  End users (e.g. individual drivers) may choose to “upgrade” or “get a new car” for personal satisfaction reasons (or maybe just to show-off?), but there typically isn’t the same motivation in a business setting.  Continuing that analogy, a business doesn’t want to purchase a vehicle and then find out that many of the standard controls they’ve gotten trained and used to – such as the gas and brake pedals, the ignition slot, etc. – have all mysteriously and inexplicably either been entirely removed – or placed in strange, awkward, different locations – or are operated differently.

In fact, when placed in that kind of a situation – where the driver of a new vehicle has to try to familiarize themselves with radically different controls (while, most likely, being in a hurry to get somewhere – I’m sure) – guess what term they probably would use to describe the experience?  “Frustrating.”.

“Frustrating” is probably not the term that you want your latest software product to be well-renowned for.  And yet, here we are with Windows8 – the essentially unsellable, ill-advised, very difficult to love Operating System.

So, what do we do about Windows8 – this horrible, horrible release of Windows that is very hard to love?

The good news is that there are still many well-made business-class computers that are available to be purchased new, from their respective manufacturers with Windows 7 Professional.  That is precisely what most businesses will want to do, who need to purchase a new PC.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this approach as long as the manufacturer and specifications of the PC are carefully chosen.

Note that this pretty much rules out purchasing PCs in a retail setting – since Windows7 has essentially been removed from the retail channel altogether at this point.  The only exception you may run into may be some refurbished PCs, or possibly an occasional clearance item here and there still lurking – however, for the most part, you will not see Windows7 PCs – or even the old Windows7 upgrade or Operating System discs – available in the retail channel anymore.

Another option is potentially to go the “non-PC” route.  This could include tablets, Apple devices (e.g. Macs or iPads), or related.

To be clear, at RiteTech, we don’t advocate people jumping completely to Apple just because of Windows8 – although there are a lot of positives to the Apple platform.  However, Windows7 Professional on a well-designed, well-equipped, and well-supported PC will honestly solve most business needs quite well, for a very long time.

Now – there are 1-2 exceptions of where Windows8 may be a good fit.  These, not surprisingly, would be on Windows Tablet PCs or other touch-sensitive devices- such as Microsoft Surface – which is really the type of hardware that Windows8 was designed to operate on.  We’ve work with helping to set clients up with Microsoft Surface and Windows8, and they were extremely pleased with it for their specific projects that called for Windows tablet computing.

However – for the vast majority of business-related tasks and business environments that don’t involve regular touch- or tablet-based work styles – the traditional approach of Windows 7 is definitely the way to go.  And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, at all – just like there was absolutely nothing wrong with “Classic Coke”.

Lastly – the latest rumors about Microsoft is that their next release of Windows – Code Named “Blue” – or Windows 8.1 – and rumored to be available late this year – will supposedly re-add the “Start” button.  Whether or not it re-adds the full, traditional Windows7 Desktop or Start MENU experience, remains to be seen (I certainly hope so!).  However, it will be interesting to see how things progress once it is released – e.g. will it be embraced and cheered – or will it simply be shrugged off as “too little, too late”, particularly with trends towards non PC-platforms (e.g. smartphones and tablets) already accelerating.

Happy computing to all…

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Posted on June 24, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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