I think Windows 8 has a lot of things going for it. The new app store will offer a lot of value for consumers. The touch interface is great for users who have a touch device. RT is space where Microsoft needed an offering. These offer lots of value for consumers, but no real value to the enterprise. RT is a non-starter for companies. App stores, yeah we typically kill those types of things unless we can manage them because of the security and compliance risks. Touch works better, sure but guess what none of the existing devices really have that, so again not a big win.
The bigger problem for Enterprise customer is that most are in progress of moving to Windows 7 or have recently moved. When you deploy a machine in a company it is different than in the consumer space. You pay for the asset then depreciate that over a fixed period of time. For many companies this is 3-5 years, unless they are leasing machines but fewer of the companies that I know do this. Those on the shorter side are notebook closer to three years and desktop actually to be spread out a bit longer. Problem one for Microsoft is that it takes a long time for companies to deploy, especially larger ones. This can be a year or more easily when you factor in how budget cycles work and logistics. So let’s say a company did a lot of planning up front with Windows 7 and really got on the ball deploying they would get done about year or year and half into the lifecycle of the operating system because it takes a good amount of time to build the corporate master image that are using on these systems. So two years into the lifecycle of Windows 7 people are still wrapping up the deployment of new assets. These assets will not be fully depreciated until three years or so after they are put in service if you are aggressive on depreciation. That means many companies will start to look at a natural upgrade to the operating system and hardware around 2014 or so. If Windows v.Next (I will assume they call this 9 with our unimaginative overlords at the helm) comes out in 2015 why would anyone spend the time and money to invest in a Windows 8 image? I suspect we will see few who do.
Why the three year lifecycle on OS then?
Great question, it can only be a consumer / revenue thing. You want people to buy a new product so you make a new one. There is pressure from the likes of Apple, Linux who offer features at greater interval that consumers are getting used to.
But what about all that cool hardware?
There is some much nicer hardware and touch on these new devices works better with Windows 8 however for Enterprises this means nothing until Line of Business applications are converted to touch. Windows 8 to me will set that process in motion, but frankly we are at least one generation of Windows and hardware away from this even becoming close to a reality. The other problem about the “new hardware” is that many will still have to wait until that hardware is end of life (3 years?).
Couldn’t you deploy Windows 8 to existing machines?
Sure you could, but not if you do not want to get shot. The new User Interface works great for touch devices, less so for mouse and keyboard. Microsoft can publish all the guides they want on how to use the corners but that will never make the experience better. The lack of a classic start menu and interface means the transition is jarring and not something most IT people will take on as in place upgrades. The other negative is how Windows 8 work on high resolution displays. Metro apps run in fixed window configuration which limits what you can do simultaneously. Many in the corporate space are running dual displays. This is an area where Windows 8 falls down considerably.
Windows 8 is not a bad OS, it is just really only viable to certain consumers, in my opinion, who buy a new touch oriented device with low resolution.