Dave Kinsey 2013-08-23 00:23:43
Working in a Mobile World With Windows 8.1 I’m writing this article on an airplane as I return from vacation on my Microsoft Surface (the standard model, not the Surface Pro). It is travel-friendly, fits neatly on my tray and comes loaded with Office 2013. My wife Stephanie is busily working on my new favorite device, the Lenovo Yoga 13. I recently purchased the Yoga for her before going on our trip and I’m jealous. I will soon be buying a Yoga 13 for myself and the Surface will become a hand-me-down. The Yoga runs full Windows 8 (not RT like the Surface) and at 13 inches, the screen is large enough to perform serious work. The Yoga has an excellent keyboard, yet I frequently find myself using it as a tablet (flipping the keyboard back automatically disables the keys when in “tablet mode”). The Yoga 13 is admittedly a gargantuan tablet, but if I need something smaller I have my phone. I am perplexed by Surface Pro. It’s thicker and heavier than the standard Surface to the point where it’s nearly as heavy as the Yoga, yet the 10.6” screen is the exact same size as its cheaper cousin – who would want a Surface Pro when they can get a Yoga for similar or less money? Windows 8, which powers all of these new devices, is a bold attempt to unify PCs and tablets. However, with only 5 percent current market share for Windows 8, it’s been tough sledding for Microsoft. There’s no start button and simple operations like reboot and shutdown are difficult to figure out at first. Windows 8 includes two versions of Internet Explorer which work very differently (a “touch” version and a “traditional” one). After getting used to it, I find Windows 8 serviceable, but I can’t say I like it better than Windows 7 for a desktop system. Windows 8 is more “touch-screen friendly” than Windows 7. This is why, for desktop systems, where people haven’t been asking for touch, I recommend sticking with Windows 7 for the immediate future. There’s little benefit to Windows 8 if you’re not going to be working with touchscreens and even with touchscreens there are training concerns. Microsoft is including modest adjustments in an 8.1 release which may help a bit. As we go to press, the release date for 8.1 was not yet announced, but was expected to be in September or October. For clients who have already taken the plunge, we’ve provided enhancements to help systems act more like Windows 7. Through the use of software called Classic Start and setting the start-up configuration to go directly to “Desktop” mode, we’ve been able to provide a more familiar experience. Software like Classic Start may be short-lived as Windows 8.1 will provide an icon to access the new Windows 8 Start Screen and more adjustments are likely over time. I am proud to say that I never recommended or deployed Windows Vista for a single client. Long before Windows 7 was released, however, it was clear that it was everything we had hoped Windows Vista would be. We began rapidly deploying the 64-bit version of Windows 7 soon after its release (skipping 32-bit Windows 7 entirely). I still recommend 64-bit Windows 7 for mainstream deployment and Windows 8 where specific touch-screen devices are desired. As Windows 8.1 is released and has time to prove itself, very controlled desktop deployments will likely make sense in specific situations. It’s not as clear if/ when Windows 8.1 will make sense for mainstream deployment on desktop systems. Microsoft has not announced if/when they intend to stop allowing Windows 7 to be bundled with new hardware and “force” a shift to Windows 8. Microsoft never took this step and forced anybody to Vista, but did with Windows 7 when Windows XP was forcefully decommissioned. Devices like the Yoga are the most compelling reason for Windows 8. Other useful Windows 8 devices will be introduced over time and the upcoming Windows 8.1 release will only help make these more attractive. With any deployment and upgrade, careful planning and testing is essential. Dave Kinsey is the owner and president of Total Networks. Total Networks is the technology partner to many law firms throughout Arizona. Services include document management, backup and disaster recovery, business communications and general IT support (for firms with or without in-house technical staff).
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