With Windows 8 due to arrive on 26 October, many businesses are unsure of how much their IT ecosystem will need to change – if at all – in order to embrace the operating system’s new ‘Metro’ interface and the significant changes Microsoft has made to the platform’s underlying architecture.
“The good news is, for businesses that have used the Windows operating system for years, there’s nothing to fear,” says Traci Maynard, Microsoft business unit manager at Tarsus Technologies.
“In fact, one of the first overriding facts that Stephen Sinofsky, Microsoft’s ‘Windows Boss’ highlighted when unveiling the operating system to the development community last year was that Windows 8 will run every piece of software that Windows 7 does, and in some cases, do a better job of it,” she adds.
“That’s because, even though the Metro user interface is the part of the operating system that will be placed in the spotlight, Windows 8 still has a classic desktop environment that’s perfect for applications that require precision input from a mouse or higher-resolution graphics.
“And, even though this classic desktop environment looks exactly like Windows 7, within the context of Windows 8, it’s viewed like ‘just another application’.
“As such, it lacks the start button that Windows 7 veterans would have beoome used to. This means that all applications, regardless of whether they run in Metro or the classic Windows desktop, will now be launched from the Metro interface.”
Maynard says it’s good to know that even though users will need to embrace the new, slick and stylish ‘Metro’ interface, the classic Windows 7 look and feel is still around so users have a familiar environment in which to run their legacy applications.
Apart from this one very obvious change, the improvements that have been made in Windows 8 will be largely masked from users.
“If they’re perceptive, however, they’re likely to notice a healthy performance boost over Windows 7 on the same hardware and improvements to the already stable platform that Windows 7 is,” she says.
Most importantly, she says users will have the freedom to run the same applications – regardless of mode – across desktops, notebooks and new touch-enabled / keyboardless notebooks; and Metro style applications across all of these platforms, as well as tablets and smartphones.
“It’s a pretty powerful value proposition, and one that will only simplify the lives of IT departments, which makes for a refreshing change from the norm,” she says.