Last weekend I spent several hours with a Microsoft Surface tablet running Windows RT, courtesy of a Forrester client. I liked it. A lot. Some quick initial observations and thoughts on what it means for I&O professionals:
The combination keyboard/cover is genius. The keyboard on the tablet I used is the flat, non-tactile one instead of the one with Chiclet keys, but like the iPad it cleans the screen when it's closed. I got used to the feel quickly but would still prefer a tactile keyboard if I bought one.
The performance is smooth and quick. I find RT to be very responsive on the Surface. It's not quite as fluid as iOS on an iPad, but it's close, and the touchscreen is precise. The screen is also bright and clear with rich, vibrant colors - at least to my eyes.
It feels heavy but solid. Any concerns about Microsoft as a hardware vendor will vanish in the first 5 minutes with it. One glitch however: This was the second Surface for this client because the original device was defective and wouldn't recognize the keyboard, so there may be some QA glitches with early versions.
I use the touchscreen more than the touchpad. I thought I'd have a hard time giving up the mouse, but found myself tapping the screen even though the Surface has a mini touchpad. It's a natural motion, and I found Office 2013 Preview a joy to use - but did need to use the touchpad for some things.
In my previous blog on Windows 8, I discussed the gap between IT decision-maker interest in migrating to Windows 8 and employee interest — particularly with touchscreen tablet devices. Employee interest was even higher than I expected prerelease, which means that Windows 8 will likely become a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) force for many organizations, but the high number of undecided respondents suggests that the next 12 months will be critical. Note that the survey was taken before the public Windows 8 release, so I don't yet know how interest will change with more people using it hands-on. I'll share my personal experiences with it in a future blog post. With that in mind, below are seven factors that put adoption at risk through the first 12 months after release.
IT decision-maker interest is affected by the following:
Most IT shops are still in the midst of their Windows XP to 7 migration. Clients report that migrating to Windows 7 is an expensive process, with application migration and modernization, the OS upgrade process, and the associated labor and costs. With only 4% of firms having a plan to migrate to Windows 8 in the next 12 months, the majority of new corporate PCs currently being deployed with Windows 7, a three- to five-year life cycle on PC hardware, and the end of Windows XP support coming in April 2014, Forrester believes few firms will be anxious to make another major investment in desktop OS migration.
With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft is in the midst of its largest marketing effort ever, hoping to reach 2.1 billion people over the next several months. Because of its lukewarm initial sales, but with new tablets and convertibles on the way, Forrester clients are understandably asking how much attention they should give it. Here's my take:
The data tells us two important things. The first is that Windows 8 is seeing roughly half of the interest from IT hardware decision-makers that Windows 7 saw at the same point in its release cycle. Only 24% of firms expect to migrate to Windows 8 but have no specific plans to do so, versus 49% for Windows 7 back in 2009. Only 5% of firms have specific plans to migrate to Windows 8 in the next 12 months, versus 10% for Windows 7 in 2009:
The second important thing that the data tells us is that Windows 8 has higher interest than we expected among employees, with a full 20% already saying that they would prefer Windows 8 on their next touchscreen tablet versus 26% for iOS. That bodes well for Windows 8's prospects for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) demand:
What It Means: Forrester does not expect enterprises to adopt Windows 8 as their primary IT standard. More on why in a future blog. But we do expect that employees will force IT to have a formal support policy for Windows 8 for employee-owned devices. Windows 8 will accelerate BYOD demand. Look for more from Benjamin Gray and yours truly in a report due out shortly.