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October 24, 2012

Windows 8 is Built for Business Part 1

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Windows 8 is upon us and business owners are probably wondering if they should invest in upgrading. There are mixed reviews on the Internet how Windows 8 is not business friendly, mainly questioning the new user interface experience and overall impact this will have on their employees. Let’s face it, Microsoft has made a big bold change to their classic Windows interface and consumers in addition to the business community are concerned about it.

As a Managed IT Service provider, we have to understand these changes and how they will impact our customers. We rolled up our sleeves and upgraded every desktop and laptop at our office approximately one month ago. The upgrade process was painless unlike the horror stories we all experienced when upgrading from XP to Vista. From a business perspective, we were concerned about loss of productivity, compatibility, and security to name our top 3. Like most businesses, our largest expense is our people so we take extra precaution when making changes like this to avoid spending more time and money.

The upgrade process consumed on average an hour of our time per desktop and laptop. Half of the time was spent watching the progress bar and Windows rebooting – Easy Cheesy right! After the upgrade, we immediately noticed our computers booting up two to three times faster and Windows was running faster too. We punched in some basic information to get our profiles up-and-running, the typical beginning to a Windows upgrade. Shortly after, we experienced the new much anticipated Start screen. After clicking on everything for 5 minutes or so in our new playground, we realized this was simple and straight forward.

To sum it up, the new Start screen is a full featured launching point with interactive tiles that can be organized into groups. They show live information about the app, sort of like widgets. The Start screen is like a dashboard you can switch in-and-out of effortlessly. If you click on a traditional app like Outlook, it automatically opens in the Desktop. No fuss. If you click on the Desktop tile, we are back to a familiar Windows 7 experience where all of our familiar line of business apps exist and fully function. In other words, we have our taskbar, desktop, file explorer, etc. just like classic Windows. If we press the Windows key on the keyboard or use our mouse and scroll down to the bottom left corner and click, we can bring up our newly improved Start screen. When using a mouse, all the corners are “hot”, you can interact with them: The top right and bottom right corners invoke a menu bar with five icons to choose from. Microsoft calls these charms; drag your mouse down the side of the screen to select any of Search, Share, Start, Devices or Settings. The top left corner invokes another menu bar that brings up a list of open applications to easily switch between running apps.

To make toggling between the new Start screen and the desktop simple, press the Windows key on the keyboard. To find and pull up applications or any other information for that matter we press the Windows key to pull up the new Start page and just start typing. This is exactly the same as how search works with the Windows 7 Start menu. These actions enable us to search Apps, Settings, Files, People, Maps, Bing, Mail, etc.

In terms of the new user interface and major changes in Windows 8, that is it as far as we can tell. Shutting down is a little different, and there is a new easier PC Settings page, but nothing that can’t be learned within 20 minutes of use. We imagined something more complex creating this huge barrier to productivity that was going to end our involvement with Windows forever and bring our business down in a ball of flames. To be honest, everyone here has been wondering why all of these critics have made such a big stink about it. Perhaps they haven’t used the software before?

After experiencing the simplicity of Windows 8 and the concern of it drastically impacting our business being completely false, we wanted to dig deeper and figure out what was possible with this new operating system and learn what other compelling features existed. Ultimately, our goal is to transfer knowledge in an organized way to our customers so they can make sound purchasing decisions. Stay tuned for more posts on this blog about tips and tricks for using Windows 8 in a business environment.

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