Windows 8: Where Desktop OS meets Mobile OS?

With the seemingly unlimited capabilities of today’s smart phones, people are essentially already carrying mini-computers in their pockets at all times. The truth is, however, that mobile operating systems have always offered experiences wildly different from that of desktop versions. This made sense in the early days of smart phones, as the mobile devices were not capable of running advanced applications like those on a desktop. But today’s mobile technologies, including the increasingly popular tablet PCs, are more than capable of handling the additional bells and whistles, leaving many experts calling for an all-in-one OS solution.

And that’s exactly what they will get in 2012. Microsoft’s Windows 8, the first OS capable of running on both desktop and mobile devices, is set to debut next year. The merging of desktop and mobile software will no doubt be a hot topic among experts, mostly because when executed properly, a cross-platform OS would save a lot of people both time and money. Web and mobile application developers, for one, would be able to write just one programme that works on both desktop and mobile platforms. This can drastically reduce the costs many businesses incur when working with app development experts. Users would be able to continue using the tools they are familiar with on their desktop and phone or tablet, saving the time to get up to speed on new versions of the software. And most importantly for business executives, organisations would be able to buy one software package that works in both environments.

Windows 8 promises to include all those benefits, as well as unveil a new integrated Windows software store, similar to Apple’s Mac App Store. A free preview has already been leaked to the public and there has already been much written on what Windows 8 could mean for the industry. Among the other notable benefits are fewer regulations for app developers, the ability to support app “free trials” and a revenue sharing plan that rewards successful apps.  That revenue share base for all apps in the Windows store will start at 70% (same as Apple’s) but increase to 80% once the app reaches $25,000 in revenue.

Microsoft is also catering to customers like Datacom’s mid- and large-sized businesses who are looking to get or are already involved in Microsoft Enterprise Agreements for their software licensing. According to Microsoft, enterprises will have more control over the mobile operating system, which will be crafted with its ubiquitous design language “Metro.” In short, as part of the enterprise group policy, IT administrators will be able to choose the access employees have to the Windows store and its apps. In addition, enterprises can choose to deploy Metro apps directly to PCs, without having to go through the store infrastructure. These changes will help each business customise the software for their organisation and help IT departments better control app management, of particular relevance to many remote locations in Australia.

But as the Windows 8 launch date draws nearer, the main questions most organisational leadership teams will now face is: Should we make the switch in 2012?  The answer is that it’s too early to tell. Organisations involved with enterprise software arrangement should consult their Microsoft reseller partner to learn more before making any drastic changes. As one of only a few licensed Microsoft large account resellers in the Australian and New Zealand markets, we’ll be closely monitoring the Windows 8 launch and be sure to pass along updates as we get them. It will certainly be an exciting time in software development as the gap between desktop and mobile could be closing for good.

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About Todd Gorsuch

Todd Gorsuch is a director with Datacom focused on developing national programmes and capabilities that meet the software, hardware and IT service needs of large organisations in Australia and Asia. Leading a national team, his goal is to ensure Datacom clients receive maximum cost savings, added value and increased agility with each IT purchase. His philosophy is that when a technology environment is created or updated with the organisation’s customers in mind, and built around their unique culture, a competitive edge is gained and revenues increase.  

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