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The Real Windows 8 Opportunity

The days when organizations made wholesale upgrades to any operating system are pretty much over. Instead, companies more often than not upgrade systems individually or in small groups of systems, assuming, of course, they can get all their critical applications to run on the new platform.

With the release of Windows 8 there are now multiple Windows upgrade paths. Some customers will upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8. Other customers will upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 8 or Windows 7, depending on application compatibility issues. While Windows 8 in its current state may not have a lot going for it in terms of the traditional desktop PC, there’s no doubt that interest in mobile computing devices within many organizations is fairly high. Many organizations are naturally attracted to the Apple iPad. But when it comes to running the applications they have already invested in, Windows offers some clear advantages.

One of the major challenges facing those organizations is that it’s no longer clear how those systems are going to get into the enterprise. More often than not mobile computing devices are brought to work by employees as part of the whole Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon. That doesn’t mean that companies won’t be buying tablets, most notably in the form of so-called hybrid devices that function as both a notebook and a tablet. But they might not be buying those systems in mass quantities for some time, especially given the current dearth of touch-enabled Windows applications.

There’s no doubt that Windows 8, in its first iteration at least, is more consumer than business focused. A new survey from Forrester Research finds that only about 33 percent of the companies the research organization surveyed plan to migrate to Windows 8. That’s significantly less than when Windows 7 launched, and may change over time when the 40 percent who said they haven’t considered Windows 8 yet make up their minds. In addition, there’s a world of difference between what a company may officially decide to do and their actual BYOD reality.

Solution providers can get a fist hand look at various Windows 8 technologies at solution centers that Ingram Micro has built. The good news from a solution provider’s perspective is that customer awareness of these issues is growing. In fact, many of them right now are trying to figure out how they are going to manage not only multiple instances of Windows, but Apple iOS and Google Android devices as well. That creates significant opportunities to provide a range of complementary products and services, ranging from security software to managed mobile device management (MDM) services. For the most part, IT organizations have ignored these issues because it was easy to limit the usage of mobile computing devices to a handful of employees. But with the advent of Windows 8 it’s pretty clear that mobile is going to be the dominant form of computing in the enterprise. What Windows 8 represents is a tipping point where customers finally recognize inevitability.

The best part is once customers come to accept that mobile computing truly does represent a new management challenge, the opportunity for solution providers starts to expand well beyond where any individual customer decides to source a particular mobile computing device.

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