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Get ready for Windows 8 support headaches

How Windows 8 could put the IT department in the middle of a never-ending fight between end users and the enterprise

By , Network World
February 27, 2012 09:47 AM ET

Network World - For all the hype surrounding Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 operating system, significant adoption isn't expected to come from anyone but consumers.

However, that doesn't mean the enterprise IT department won't have to deal with it.

Gartner analyst Michael Silver predicts that "migration fatigue," a condition common among organizations that have recently spent substantial time and money adopting Windows 7, will prevent most from making the leap to Windows 8. He's not alone, either, with IDC researchers predicting that Windows 8 will be "largely irrelevant" on traditional PCs in general.

MORE: Campaign now for workers to buy Windows 8 on x86 tablets

TEST YOURSELF: The Windows 8 Quiz

Naturally, that means Microsoft will need to find success for Windows 8 in consumer tablet and PC sales. And with the Windows 8 consumer preview set to release during this week's much-hyped Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft can start to drum up consumer interest before the operating system's expected 2012 release.

According to some, these expectations could be paving a bumpy road for enterprise network managers who are already subjected to the common issues of bring-your-own-device policies

Aaron Suzuki, CEO of SmartDeploy, which helps enterprise customers migrate operating systems, says the fact that these consumer-friendly tablets come preloaded with a Windows OS will make many anticipate compatibility with their Windows-based work PCs.

"If you can get a Windows 8 device for cheaper than you can get an iPad and it does cool stuff, everyone's going to get one," Suzuki says. "So now you have everyone bringing their cool Windows device to work and it does all these things, and they'll start saying 'load up my work apps' and expecting LOB applications to work on that platform."

Especially with most users having been acclimated to Windows applications for work purposes for years, it won't be long before these devices show up in the enterprise, Silver says.

"Consumerization affects pretty much every product in market," Silver says. "So there very well could be some users who decide they like Windows 8 or that they're not happy with the device the organization has given them, and that certainly could spur some Windows 8 use in the enterprise, even if the organization isn't the one that decided to use it."

The increasingly accepted BYOD trend in the enterprise may cause a disconnect between the expectations of employees and the reality of their employers' IT environment, Suzuki says. Although employees will see their tablets' compatibility with Windows applications as an opportunity to improve productivity, their migration-fatigued employer will treat it as just another personally owned device. From there, conflict is likely to ensue, Suzuki says.

"The potential implications are then that all other people start bringing their Windows 8 devices as their sole computing platform and the expectation is if they bring it to work then they can do all of their work on it," he says. "Technically, it's an unmanaged device because you may not be set up to lay down antivirus or all of the applications that you use to secure the network on that new platform. You may not have the licenses to do so."

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