Should You Wait for Windows 8?

Windows 7
If organizations are ready to deploy Windows 7 now, they should continue with their migration plans. You shouldn’t put your project on hold and wait because if you are among those who deploy Windows 8 early, it is very likely you will make modifications to Windows 8 to operate and look like Windows 7. This is out of both necessity and sheer practicality. With Windows 7, IT knows what it’s investing in: a proven, generally stable operating system.Users also know what they’re getting: another version of Windows with incremental learning required to be efficient.

Now with that said, assuming Windows 8 is generally available, and your options are to either buy Windows licenses with downgrade rights to Windows 7 or just deploy Windows 8, you might consider moving straight to Windows 8. A lot of the decision will hinge on your company culture, savyness of your worker’s technical abilities, and the technical level of the work you’re doing. You also need to consider hardware investments, and whether you will be able to get touch-enabled hardware that can really make the most of Windows 8 that is reliable and within budget.

Windows 8
Windows 8 will be the newest product available, and you could argue that if you waited this long and you’re going to make one investment, why not deploy the latest, greatest version? By doing so, you will be better prepared for the future. From a budget and time investment standpoint, it makes sense to do one upgrade rather than two, so you could argue that making the jump straight to Windows 8 is practical. Keep in mind that if you’re still running XP and jumping to Windows 8 you will have to upgrade hardware as it can be very costly in terms of dollars and IT hours in trying to maintain aging inventory. And that hardware upgrade may have cost, capability, or reliability challenges associated with it if you want to make the most of the touch-oriented Metro UI.

If you choose to deploy Windows 8, you’ll need to take into consideration the significant learning curve for a less technical workforce. Choosing Windows 8 could lead to a significant hit in productivity, as people start to get acquainted with the new environment, at least in the short term. And you’ll probably be a hardware early adopter with your Windows 8 deployment and pay a premium for first generation hardware that often benefits from rapid improvement.

Assess Your Strategy
Moving forward, it is highly unlikely that such a large gap will exist between operating system releases like we saw with XP to Vista. Windows OSes will be released much more frequently, leaving IT with the tricky decision of how often to upgrade. Evaluate your strategy first. And now might be an ideal time to reassess your strategy entirely considering the changing IT landscape.

I initially thought there would inordinate risk involved with skipping Windows 7 for Windows 8, but with the Windows 8 release timeframe back on track and time left on the XP clock, increasingly I believe there are reasonable arguments to go directly to Windows 8. Stay where you are until you’re good and ready, and when you’re ready, make an informed decision for your business.