What does Windows 8 mean for Enterprise IT?

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had some interesting discussions around the possible effects Windows 8 will have on IT departments. One common theme discussed is the idea that consumers will accelerate ITs need to support Windows 8. So what does this mean for an organization’s migration needs?

I think this goes beyond deployment – it is more of a broad supportability issue and deployment could come in the de facto form of a “break-fix” scenario as opposed to just needing to deploy Windows 8 sooner than expected. IT will be in a position where, unless they are prepared, they are forced to support Windows 8 whether they want to or not.

Windows 8 is going to be more capable and more ready for the corporate LAN than an Android or iOS device. Non-Windows tablets are limited to run email, calendaring, and some web apps that are supported in their browser. However, Windows 8 has the full robustness and capability of other Windows platforms in terms of application operation and manageability. It can join an Active Directory domain, and unless IT has it locked down, people will join their Windows 8 devices to the domain. And then all the fun can really begin. Moreover, many Windows 8 devices will be “convertible” meaning that they will either have keyboards attached or included, and users can flip from consumption-mode to production-mode and have the full productivity of a normal sized, physical qwerty keyboard.

So what you’ll have is this powerful Windows device probably loaded with Office 2010 (and anything they can get to install on it, which is most anything that will run on Win7) and it is good for more than surfing the web, triaging email, and posting to Facebook. People will access corporate resources with it – file shares, intranet and LOB apps, printers – and they’ll be calling on IT to help when they can’t do everything they expect.

There are ways to address this, but it will take IT involvement. There has to be some preparation and proactivity on the part of IT to be ready for this wave of IT demand and the potential security threats that accompany this unique generation of devices.

In order to prepare for the onslaught of Windows 8 devices, IT departments should begin taking the precautionary steps and evaluate policies in light of Windows 8, before it comes to market. With the right policies in place, an organization won’t be forced to accelerate their Windows migration timeline, rather they will be in a better place operationally to support their employee’s and stay aligned with the needs of the business.