Is Windows 8 Viable for Business? 

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Windows 8 is Microsoft’s follow up to the rock solid Windows 7. Since its release in November of 2012 the reaction has been divided. Some love the changes and praise Microsoft’s innovation, while others consider it to be one of the worst things to happen to desktop computing in a long time. Let’s go over the pros and cons of this new operation system.


Key Changes: 

The largest change by far in Windows 8 is the addition of the start menu. The start menu is not something that can be  avoided seeing as it is the first thing you will see every time you start up your Windows 8 PC. Is this new addition a boon or a bane for users? Well, on the consumer level it really comes down to preference on whether or not one enjoys the new interface. On a business level however I think the start menu is a large detriment to productivity.

Windows 8 Start Menu


This is due to several factors:

  • Full screen apps. These apps take away from multitasking potential. Example: You’re writing a report in Word, looking up references at the same time in your web browser. Windows 8 automatically full screens the browser (if your running Google Chrome, or Internet Explorer), hiding your document open in Word. If you prefer to have them open side by side you’ll have to do some additional searching to figure out how to disable the full screen mode of the browsers.
  • These full screen apps aren’t as effective for business. Some of the new full screen apps are quite beautiful in terms of their user interface and colours. However, in my several months of using Windows 8, I have not found a single one that seemed better than the desktop equivalent. I get more work done in the standard version of the apps then I do in the full screen version. All the major productivity apps: web browsers, Word, Xcel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, Visual Studio; run better in the old standard user interface than in the new full screen mode. 
  • The new start menu is designed for the home user, not business. Upon initial startup, your start menu is flashing your music, video, pictures, the weather, Facebook updates, and other things at you. In a business context, you’re looking to get things done, not be distracted by what your friends are up to. You can disable all of the social interaction, but it’s all enabled by default.

Other than the start menu the changes in Windows 8 are very minor for the standard operator, who wields a mouse and keyboard, not a touchscreen.

 

What does Windows 8 do Better Than 7?

By far the best improvement Windows 8 offers over 7 is speed. My laptop start up times improved from around 55 seconds on Windows 7, to around 35 seconds on Windows 8. Once your computer is booted however any speed difference was indiscernible. Putting the new start menu aside, Windows 8 performs, looks, and feels, nearly identically to Windows 7.

 

Should My Business Upgrade?

Short answer: no. There’s nothing new that Windows 8 offers that you can’t find in Windows 7. It seems that Microsoft released an OS whose first focus was the touch screen tablet user, and whose second focus is the productivity focused PC user. The new start menu can be customized with a productivity focus, but Windows 7 start menu still does it better.


Summary:

Windows 8 is a very sleek, and fast operating system, which makes improvements in many small areas. The new start menu however is a massive negative for productivity focused users. The new focus on full screen apps, and the new full screen start menu is certainly a step away from productivity in a world where the majority of us still use a keyboard and mouse instead of a touch screen.  

 

For another operating system perspective, check out our post on Ubuntu

 


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