Limited Value In Windows 8 Enterprise Trial, Analysts Say
Microsoft released a 90-day evaluation copy of Windows 8 Enterprise last week to give IT professionals and developers an opportunity to build and test Win 8 apps on the final version of Microsoft's next-generation operating system. The free download for 32-bit and 64-bit machines also includes the requisite versions of Visual Studio 2012 and related tools.
Unless enterprises already have their Windows 7 migrations complete, however, Win 8 is a distraction and organizations should hold off on any serious evaluations, advised Gartner Research Director Nik Simpson. But if their Windows 7 migrations are done and dusted, then it may be worth evaluating the new OS from two perspectives.
"Windows 8 is certainly worth a look for mobile workers that need access to traditional Windows apps on a tablet," Simpson told us Monday. "There are tablet devices available today that run Win 8, and come the fourth quarter of this year there will be many more options."
Meanwhile, developers should start to look at developing applications for the Win 8 UI formerly known as Metro. "These developers can do their development on conventional mouse/keyboard systems, but will need touch-based devices for the test phase," Simpson said.
No Need to Rush Testing
IDC does not recommend that organizations rush into Windows 8 deployments without a thorough review and test phase to ensure compatibility is good with the organization's application portfolio, and to make sure it runs on the hardware the organization typically procures. On the other hand, "there is an opportunity here to experience the new user interface, which is going to factor into any possible deployment decisions that organizations may be making," IDC Vice President Al Gillen told us Monday.
For those organizations which are interested in looking at Windows 8 as a PC upgrade, 90 days is barely enough time to scratch the surface, said Gartner Research Vice President Steve Kleynhans.
"Testing could answer some questions about the compatibility of some of the bigger apps in the environment, and will provide some insight into what the initial desktop experience will be like," Kleynhans told us Monday. "However, on the software compatibility front, we suspect that formal support, not compatibility, may prove to be a bigger stumbling block."
Most of the enterprise interest that exists today with respect to the new OS is really around the potential of W8 tablets, but there is really very little that most organizations could test right now beyond some basic familiarity.
"On the tablet front at least, there is a limit as to what you can learn until the rest of the ecosystem -- devices and apps as well as the operating system -- becomes available," Kleynhans said.
Forrester Research analyst Mike Gualtieri is advising CIOs to find out if their legacy Windows applications will run flawlessly on Windows 8 Enterprise.
"Make a list of your three gnarliest Windows applications and see if they will run," Gualtieri told us Monday. "That will be a good first test."
Though Win 8's desktop environment will likely run the vast majority of today's Windows 7 applications, third-party software vendors may prove to be slow in formally supporting the new OS, Kleynhans cautioned. And over the next six months, he believes there will be lots of polishing of the desktop experience through the introduction of add-on touchpads as well as utilities that better replicate the Windows 7 desktop on Windows 8.
Still, Kleynhans believes companies should plan to spend some time now with Win 8 just to learn about its new features and determine how they could be integrated into their current IT environments.
"Look at new tools that will be needed to manage Windows 8 and Win 8 apps effectively, and generally be prepared," Kleynhans advised. "But beyond curiosity, there isn't any need to rush to testing."