Time to make a move?

Opinion Jan 04, 2013

With the launch of Windows 8, Tim Clegg, head of transformation at Calyx, discusses the options available for a desktop upgrade

The long awaited launch of Microsoft’s re-imagined operating system Windows 8 is now a reality.

Only a few months since its introduction and the platform is appealing to a wide range of users, thanks to its huge step change in functionality and performance. In fact, only three days after its launch, Microsoft chief, Steve Ballmer, confirmed the company had already supplied more than four million upgrades of the operating system. After one month, Microsoft announced it had sold 40m Windows 8 licences.

With so many users already, it is vital that businesses realise there are a range of services and options available which can help drive end-user device strategy.

Is Windows 8 for me?

Firstly, what is Windows 8? Well it’s a bold redesign of Windows 7 and it’s getting a lot of attention. Some journalists are highlighting it as the most important launch period in Microsoft history.

The software is the first designed with tablets and smartphones in mind, which is particularly important given the increasing use of such devices in the workplace. A single platform for smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop PCs means that Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 all share the same base, file system and apps, which makes the workload of a businesses’ IT support team easier to manage and maintain. While working in the cloud and on hosted-desktop solutions employees can access their desktop and files from any location, with internet access and on virtually any device.

However, as with all IT solutions, businesses can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach and any expert managed service provider will be a strong advocate of this concept. There are several internal factors which need to be considered before implementation:

•             Your current IT landscape, in terms of the end-user device and datacentre server estate

•             Line of business and desktop applications in use

•             Future infrastructure initiatives such as a unified communications project

•             Legacy system implications

•             User community location and blend (office, remote or home and hybrid workers)

•             Security considerations

•             Network capacity

External factors also play their part in the decision making process. For example, support for the XP operating system ends in April 2014, it’s important to remember that a typical desktop deployment project can take 12 months from decision to completed deployment, so in reality April 2014 is not that far off.

Business options

Working with an established managed service provider, businesses can easily identify their needs and find out how to best accommodate them, while embracing the full capabilities of the new Windows 8 platform. However, for any businesses looking to make the move, there are two key paths to consider: 

Full blown desktop operating systems upgrade

The decision to undergo a full desktop upgrade should be less about the choice between Windows 8 versus Windows 7, but more about considering the services required. It is also critical that applications and personal settings in use are re-deployed seamlessly to the appropriate users. If this means it’s more appropriate to move a business on XP to Windows 7 that is fine – businesses should consider the path which works best for them – there is no right or wrong.

Hosted desktop

For some organisations application access cannot be easily accommodated due to technology limitations. In this case, a hosted desktop solution can be the answer as it will deliver important applications to employees no matter where they are located and the end-user can use a variety of devices beyond their traditional desktop computer. In fact, just within the option of a hosted desk top, a business can choose from a virtual desktop infrastructure, a remote desktop service or a cloud-based service.

Shifting the delivery of application to a hosted desktop model also ensures that all data is stored in a central location, no matter what device it was used on. As a result, confidential company data and files will no longer reside on individual PCs and devices, giving businesses greater control in case of loss or theft, while employees can simply log on once to access all the information they need.

A hosted desktop also has a relatively small bandwidth requirement so it can operate effectively even on a 3G mobile data connection.

A new approach  

Once a decision is made on the best implementation option, the full capabilities of Windows 8 can be released. Yet, it is important to consider that moving forward with Windows 7 is sometimes a better option for some organisations given varying external and internal factors.

The launch of Windows 8 marks a new era for Microsoft, in which users get the same experience across all their devices, which can help drive collaboration, productivity and performance. With a range of implementation options available it’s a business opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

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