Windows 8: The new Vista?

The history of new operating systems from Microsoft has been decidedly rocky. Every so often, they released bad products such as Windows ME which is on almost all “10 Worst Tech Products of All Time” lists, and Windows Vista, an ambitious but very flawed product. I don’t mean to beat up on Microsoft (remember the Apple Newton?) but an operating system can have a significant impact on a business or organization.

So how does Windows 8 compare? Is it the disaster that some say, or groundbreaking new product?

To be certain, it’s a departure from the past. Some have compared it to Windows 95, Microsoft’s first purpose built graphically based operating system because it’s different from everything that’s come before it. Should you consider it for your business/organization? We’ll run down some of the changes below.

Security

Security is Priority One at BCS so this is a good place to start. Windows 8 a number of security enhancements. For example, it contains support for a new type of motherboard called UEFI, which will prevent any virus from getting into your computer before Windows starts. It also includes basic antivirus protection which is great for home users. In addition, there are a lot of “under the hood” security improvements such as ASLR and AppContainers which carefully limit how a program can interact with your computer. Think about a malicious program that was accidentally installed. Windows 8 can more effectively prevent or limit the damage it does to your computer, and improve the chances of removal.

Power

Windows 8 has made great strides to reduce power consumption. Like a hybrid car, it uses very little power when idle by shutting off everything possible. So if you aren’t moving the mouse or typing, it quickly goes to a low power state. By the way, Metro Apps are much more power efficient that the traditional desktop applications.

Speed

With Windows 7 and 8, Microsoft has striven to improve performance and reduce the hardware power needed to run the operating system. In fact, Windows 7 is faster than Vista, and Windows 8 is faster still, partly to support low power mobile devices like tablets. For example, Windows 8 will typically boot twice as fast as Windows 7 and require about 30% less memory to run.

Wireless

The WiFi that you probably have in your home or office, and mobile 3 and 4G (called WWAN) which is what your cell phone uses when you’re away, are becoming more important than ever. Windows 8 now supports both types seamlessly. And the speed to connect or switch between wireless network connections has been increased by an order of magnitude. In addition, Windows 8 is smart about switching to the best connection available, be it WWAN, WiFi, or wired.

Start Button

Of course the most controversial aspect of Windows 8 is the Start Menu, or more accurately the Start Screen. This is a huge change and at least for me, took some getting used to. I find it to be quite powerful however once I learned how to use it. And I’ve found that casual users have no problem with it. There are some improvements in this area with the Windows 8.1 release coming in a few months, and that may go a long way to alleviating some of the criticism of this new design.

Conclusion

With Windows XP support ending in about 9 months, now might be good time to look at Windows 8 for your business or organization. The tablet versions is an alternative to the iPad is al worth considering, and might help to improve productivity when out of the office.