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Windows 8 Update: Microsoft sets Oct. 26 release date

EU eyeballs Windows 8 browser policy, tablet keyboards with brains

By , Network World
July 19, 2012 05:17 PM ET

Network World - Microsoft has set Oct. 26 as the release date for the commercial version of Windows 8 - a date IT pros should mark on their calendars, not because they want to immediately buy it in bulk, but because they need to find out just how it will fit into their corporate network plans.

With the bulk of Windows shops running on Windows 7 and another sizeable chunk hustling to switch to it from Windows XP, there's no compelling business reason to latch onto Windows 8 any time soon.

But there is ample reason to check it out. With its touch-friendly Metro user interface, the operating system really does present a different way of navigating through applications. The big question is whether that difference offers a better way of accomplishing work tasks, and that's the question IT decision makers have to answer.

HELP: Why, when and how to migrate to Windows 8 

Can workers using desktops get just as much work done on Windows 8 as Windows 7 using a keyboard and mouse? That's the minimum requirement. Will the Metro interface and touch capabilities get more work done on existing desktop hardware? That's the real question, the answer to which needs quantifying.

Will tablets outfitted with the Microsoft Office get more work done? Windows 8's catering to tablets is the big difference between it and Windows 7, so businesses need to look carefully at what benefits it will bring to productivity.

The answers will vary business to business, and those who are mapping corporate planning should remember the arrival of Windows 8 isn't happening in a vacuum. It's coming out amid a flood of other software updates - Office 2013, Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012, SQL Server 2012 - that require consideration and, if found worthy, deployment. Adding desktop overhauls to the list without compelling business gains makes no sense.

RELATED: Users find Microsoft System Center 2012 simplifies virtual systems management duties 

European Union investigates Windows 8 browser policy

The European Union has found that Microsoft failed to offer Windows 7 customers in Europe a screen on which they could choose what browser they wanted to use, prompting EU regulators to ask whether the same problem is likely to crop up in Windows 8, Reuters reports.

Microsoft failed to include the Windows 7 browser-choice as it agreed to, setting itself up for possible fines, and also for an investigation into whether Microsoft is cutting other browsers out of Windows 8.

BACKGROUND: Firefox, Chrome cry foul over Windows 8 ARM 

In May Mozilla and Google protested that their browser teams weren't getting access to APIs that would enable their browsers to perform advanced functions on the Windows 8 version made for ARM-based devices and known as Windows RT. That flavor of the new operating system will only be sold to consumers installed on hardware devices - never as standalone software.

The claim of Mozilla and Google was that being left out stymied competition and was ultimately bad for customers who will have no choice but to use Internet Explorer. Back then Mozilla general counsel Harvey Anderson predicted that the EU probe might be result.

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