A Learning Curve for Windows 8? Much Ado About Nothing, but Stick With Windows 7 for the Enterprise

I try to be an early adopter, as long as the cost is low. So when I had the opportunity to upgrade my personal laptop to Windows 8 for $15 (I had recently purchased 2 laptops, and Microsoft offers the $15 upgrade to recent purchasers of machines running Window 7), I took the plunge. After reading about the increased security, I knew I should do it for that reason alone. And after reading all the reviews about a steep learning curve, new “Apps”, and how it would be so different running it on a laptop as opposed to a tablet or touch screen device, I decided to do the upgrade anyway.

The upgrade itself was no big deal. The installation was effortless (I created media from which to do the install, one of the options available) but took a long time, since I elected to keep all of my files and settings. Once the laptop rebooted, I took to conquering the so-called steep learning curve, how the new Metro interface would change things forever on the laptop.

For anyone using a tablet of any kind, the learning curve is minimal. For those that have never used a tablet, the learning curve could be steeper, but it really isn’t that daunting.

Microsoft has essentially set up an “invisible” start button in the lower left hand corner of the screen that, when clicked with a mouse, opens the start screen instead of a start menu. Microsoft also starts you on the start screen instead of your old desktop. When on the desktop, nothing at all changed for me. It looks the same as my windows 7 desktop, minus the start button. All of the old keyboard commands and shortcuts work as they used to, all of my applications are the same, the only two real changes were that there is no “Aero Glass” look to the windows, and all the rounded corners are gone.

I haven’t really come up against anything I don’t like about windows 8. Boot times are much faster, the start page is easy to navigate, and the opening screen, with clock and background apps, gives me a great first glance at the day ahead, without even unlocking my account.

That being said, I would stay with Windows 7 for new desktop and laptop upgrades for the enterprise. Here’s why:

Eye candy aside, Windows 8 really doesn’t bring anything new to the table of advantage to the enterprise. From a productivity standpoint, why introduce change and a learning curve, steep or otherwise, that returns no net return on productivity? The new Metro “Apps” have no useful place in the enterprise and were designed primarily for the consumer market, and for administrators, locking down these apps looks daunting. The new version of IE10, while pretty, also takes time to learn to use properly and effectively, another learning curve with no net gain.

So while I will use Windows 8 on my own personal laptop, Windows 7 remains the choice for the enterprise.