Windows OS Considerations When Upgrading from Windows XP

If you’re preparing for Microsoft’s “zero day forever” — the day in April when support for Windows XP ends and that hackers could have a field-day exploiting Windows XP PCs since they will no longer receive security patches —, you might be wondering if making the move to Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 makes the most sense. Obviously, this choice depends on your business needs and how much you can accomplish in the fewer than five months left until Windows XP support ends. But here are a few other things to consider when choosing the best OS to upgrade to for your organisation.

Windows 8.1

Let’s start with the latest OS first. A good reason to upgrade to Windows 8.1 straight from XP is if you have a growing number of very mobile workers who could benefit from the touch component of the year-old OS. There are added mobility and security features with Windows 8.1, including the new Workplace Join that lets you access corporate data from a server that then gets automatically deleted when someone leaves the company. This component basically dismisses the need for a remote device wipe, something many employees have an issue with as it also might remove their personal apps and data. So, if you have plans to ramp up mobility in your organisation in the coming years, considering how Windows 8.1 could fit into your strategy is worthwhile. There are also other new features such as the return of the Start bar to make it easier to perform tasks, better application management across devices through Assigned Access and more options for mobile device management.

If you’re running XP, you cannot upgrade straight to 8.1. You’ll have to upgrade to Windows 8 first and then 8.1, as Microsoft specifies that Windows 8.1 was not designed for installation on devices running Windows XP or Windows Vista. If you do decide to go this two-step route straight from XP, you’ll not only need new hardware but also a whole new crop of applications as well, as many that run on an old Microsoft OS won’t be compatible with Windows 8.1. Datacom has tools that can assist in the assessment of which apps will comply or can be remediated.

Windows 8

Moving to Windows 8 is also a consideration for organisations increasing the scale of mobility in the workforce. Other than mobility, your considerations for upgrading to Windows 8 should be whether you have the budget to purchase Windows 8-compatible desktops for your entire workforce and if you have the time — fewer than five months — to teach them how to use the new touch OS. If you are focussed on Windows 8, factor in support resources to help answer the onslaught of questions and troubleshooting needs your users are likely to have as they get used to an OS like none they’ve ever used before. But on that last note, remember that Windows 8 also has a desktop mode that looks and acts almost exactly like Windows 7. You can also forgo the Modern start screen and boot straight to the desktop. So, don’t let the touch component necessarily be a reason to avoid migrating to the OS.

Windows 7

More than 90 per cent of large businesses will move from Windows XP to Windows 7, according to Gartner. Microsoft itself has urged organisations to continue planned Windows 7 migrations and only deploy Windows 8 to user groups that need it most, such as mobile workers. However, the company has also encouraged businesses to start investing in Windows 8-compatible devices so that if and when they want to upgrade to Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, they don’t have to heavily invest in more hardware. The hardware component is what makes going from Windows XP to Windows 7 most reasonable for many businesses — it does not necessitate a hardware upgrade, meaning organisations can hold onto their PCs for longer.

Regardless of the next Microsoft OS you choose, enlisting the help of an IT provider to design, implement and offer post-support for your migration, in addition to procure any new hardware and software licenses that might be needed, will lower risks and ensure a more seamless transition.

5 Tips for Using a Holistic Strategy to Improve your Next Desktop Upgrade

By Peter Stein

Standardisation is no longer the name of the game when it comes to enterprise desktop upgrades. Today’s workforce is more dynamic, working in individualistic ways and often away from the office. A standard PC configuration will no longer cut it for a diverse mix of mobile, remote and desktop-bound workers. Nor will it work for your IT department, which will be inundated with requests for productivity apps, personal device connectivity or access to cloud-based tools. Whereas these areas used to sit in disparate places in the business, they are now integrated under the umbrella of “enterprise desktop”.

Your next desktop upgrade will take a deeper, more holistic strategy that accounts for the varied and complex needs of your workforce whilst ensuring the IT department can do its job effectively. Consider these tips for plotting your enterprise desktop upgrade and preparing your organisation for a more evolved, interconnected future.

1. Consider new tools and technologies

Different devices are no longer roadblocks to delivering applications through IT. Application virtualisation and virtual desktop infrastructure mean software can now be separated from the device hardware and operating system, which reduces compatibility issues. Gartner expects cloud computing, hosted desktops and application virtualisation to become more common and offer organisations more choice when it comes to enterprise desktop computing.

2. Think about the user

And, for the record, you have more than one type. Identifying user personas is crucial for taking a more holistic approach to enterprise desktop strategy. You can get there with some basic questions around usage patterns. How many of your workers are in the office most days of the week vs. which ones are on the road, for instance? What types of content do different departments create or consume? Perhaps the sales team gets the tablets whilst the knowledge workers stick with laptops, desktops or thin clients. Whatever your workforce split, there’s a technology — or technologies you can combine — to align with these disparate user types.

3. Investigate your hardware and software assets

If you already have a solid asset tracking program in place, this part won’t be as cumbersome. If you don’t, this exercise will make you strongly consider one. Before you get started on your enterprise desktop upgrade, you must know which applications and hardware you have. This will help you not only discover software that’s not being used — a potential cost savings —, but should also provide you with tools to better distribute current resources, identify areas for new investment and give you an understanding of where new applications and computing devices would benefit your organisation.

4. Know how these assets are being used

After you know what you have, you can start seeing exactly how it’s being used. For instance, you’ll be able to learn connectivity patterns — has VPN become more popular, for instance? —, how devices map to computing usage and which devices should be added (thin clients, for example) or retired in the future and whether virtual desktop infrastructure might be a wise investment.

5. Create an integrated management toolset

Varied devices, applications and user needs can quickly make IT management chaotic. Centralising management, security and application delivery across both physical and virtual end user devices can help simplify the IT environment. This centralised management approach will also help IT quickly provision desktop services, no matter the device, that map to the user need and profile. On the software front, having an app store or catalogue can help ease the delivery of applications in new desktop environments.

Gartner has said that organisations will increasingly be bound less and less by hardware and operating systems and eventually be able to cost-effectively deliver applications to any device. They recommend a 10-year enterprise desktop strategy so that organisations can poise themselves to take advantage of future technology developments that can add more business value. As organisations get more enterprise desktop choice, it makes sense to talk out your strategy with an IT provider that can help source, integrate and implement tools and services that will maximise your desktop computing environment now and down the road.

Peter Stein is General Manager of Licensing for Datacom, a role in which he is focussed on nationalising and growing the licensing practice. He is an experienced IT channel professional with leadership experience in sales, marketing and product management. He has managed diverse teams and contributed to the growth of the companies with which he has worked.

What’s Different About Windows 8.1 – and Why it Matters to your Business

Just a year after the release of Windows 8, Microsoft released Windows 8.1 on Friday, the first in the company’s new “rapid cadence” update cycle for its Windows operating systems (the usual release frequency is every two to three years). As a ZDNet story from July pointed out, Windows 8.1 is not just a service pack. It does have several measurable differences from Windows 8 — differences that might provide compelling reasons to consider upgrading to the new OS.

Better application and data management

Windows 8.1 has endeavoured to provide better application security across devices through Assigned Access. This new Windows 8.1 feature initialises a preconfigured set of filters to block access to other applications, giving the user permission for only a specific Windows Store app on the device. You can choose how to manage the applications based on device, work scenario or capability needed. Other security features protect corporate data on Windows 8.1 in BYOD arrangements, such as Remote Business Data Removal, which wipes sensitive data from compromised devices and encrypts all consumer Windows 8.1 devices.

Enhanced device mobility

For organisations with many employees who must connect from outside the office to a corporate network, the Windows 8.1 DirectAccess feature removes the need to launch a separate virtual private network. DirectAccess delivers corporate applications via secure firewall and is able to automatically provide security software and policy updates to remote computers to keep corporate data safe. DirectAccess also helps IT administrators keep remote user PCs in compliance.

More options for device management

Windows 8.1 has an open MDM policy, allowing businesses to enrol either corporate or personal Windows devices with any third-party MDM solution, including AirWatch and MobileIron, that can communicate with Windows’ built-in OMA-DM protocols. The OMA-DM protocols provide secure communication with cloud-based MDM services so your organisation doesn’t need to buy additional infrastructure. Organisation-provisioned devices that regularly connect to corporate networks can be managed by System Center’s enterprise management capabilities.

Stronger IT control

Previously, Windows 8 provided “all or nothing” access to users accessing PCs based on whether they were a member of the corporate domain or not. The new Workplace Join enables users to work on any device while still accessing corporate resources.  IT can choose to allow access to certain resources while restricting access to others. Users can enrol in Workplace Join themselves by registering their device with Windows Intune.

If you are considering Windows 8.1 and already use Windows 8, you don’t need to purchase additional licenses — you already own the license for 8.1. An IT provider with specialisation in desktop management can help you upgrade and ensure your workstations are optimised for 8.1.

See how you can sign up for a Windows 8.1 Customer Immersion Experience.

Expanding Your View of the Enterprise Desktop to Drive Better Performance

Today’s workforce is now productive in places and during times it previously was not. No longer deskbound, employees are conducting important business from the train, the coffee shop line and their hotel room. This shift in how we work has increasingly necessitated a shift in how we view enterprise computing. The “desktop” as we know it is still here, but it now has siblings in the form of smartphones and tablets. And they can all coexist in one happy family if your organisation plans its desktop strategy with a holistic approach. We talk to Peter Stein, General Manager of Licensing at Datacom, about how organisations can expand their view of the enterprise desktop to drive better productivity and performance across the organisation.

Q: There’s been a lot of talk in the media in Australia and beyond about the “end of the desktop” to make way for a tablet/laptop/smartphone-filled workforce. Is the desktop ending or just taking a new shape?

A: By no means is the desktop dead. It won’t be as prevalent, but it does still have a spot in today’s workforce. For office-bound workers, it is still a very effective tool to complete routine work in a standard work environment. The functionality allows a user to effectively create and complete tasks. One of the points that I see as still key to this style of work is the number of people who use other devices but then come into the office environment to dock their other device to something that allows them access to a larger screen and a full keyboard and mouse.

Now to look at the benefits of new devices, individuals get to couple their work styles with devices that match their needs. As we become a more connected world, we can manage our work-life balance by connecting when it makes sense. To maximise this connectivity, tools are being built with similar features for multiple devices. The more common the interface, the easier it is for the user to maximise the tool on that device.

Q: What does the future look like to you in terms of device use and workplace arrangements (remote work, BYOD, hot desking, etc.)?

A: The appy world is our new reality. Businesses are building-customer facing and internal apps to allow business flexibility. Users from the CEO-level and down are demanding access to tools through multiple devices, and the vendors are moving their software to the cloud and consumption models. From a pure IT perspective, this is creating a security paradigm for the IT team. As purchase and admin control for consumption-based apps sit in teams that are not focused on security, the business needs to still have tools in place to understand what is being used where and the implications of the data available on these apps.

The future will show multiple form factors either as BYOD or company-provisioned hardware that will run a company-managed Endpoint Management Solution that can provide complete device lifecycle management. Datacom’s Managed End Point solution, for instance, not only allows for management and troubleshooting of IT functions, but also ensures that endpoints remain compliant with internal and external standards.

Q: Why has there been resistance from some organisations to relinquish their hold on the traditional desktop and incorporate a wider range of devices?

A: I would not call it resistance. Initially, organisations are looking to maximise their investment, and in their current refresh cycle, they are building out plans on how to make use of the new world of connected devices. Organisations have to carefully look at how they are going to manage this not only from a support perspective but also in terms of data security and user IP. There is a dynamic shift from a managed device and applications that have been vetted by IT to a more open framework, which creates challenges ranging from support to ownership.

Q: What’s the benefit to organisations in re-envisioning desktop strategy?

A: I went to a traditional games arcade with my 5-year-old son and he saw Pac-Man. He immediately went to the screen and started trying to direct the game with his fingers rather than using the controls available. Today’s new design will mean that not only will we be able to be more mobile, but things we have not yet envisioned will become common place in the coming years. To date, the games market has broken frontiers on touch, and the enterprise is only now beginning to build touch-based applications to improve performance and productivity.

Q: What are some of the first things organisations need to consider when rethinking their desktop strategy to incorporate a wider range of devices and work situations?

A: The move to devices should not be seen as a large leap. It is incorporating touch into the organisation. The main consideration is for any legacy applications and how they will resolve touch. If these devices are company-provisioned, the normal vetting of the devices will occur through IT. Where the device is BYOD, the organisation needs to decide if they are going to deliver the app natively or through a virtual environment.

4 Questions to Ask as You Plan to Upgrade from Windows XP and Office 2003

Do you know how much is at stake if your organisation loses data due to insufficient Windows XP or Office 2003 security updates or support? Take our risk assessment to learn.

Thirty per cent of SMEs are still running Windows XP and Office 2003 — and almost half don’t know support for both of these products will end in less than a year.

While you can still run Windows XP and Office 2003, you will no longer receive security updates or support after April 8, 2014. Even if you plan to upgrade to the new Office 2013 now, it’s not compatible with Windows XP. With these pressing security and compatibility issues,plotting your migration strategy now will help protect your business from risk of data loss and downtime. Here are some questions to ask to begin executing your Windows XP and Office 2003 upgrade plan.

1. Are my applications compatible? Prior to upgrading from Windows XP, you will need to see if your software will be compatible with your new operating system, whether it’s Windows 7 or Windows 8. That’s a process you don’t want to hold off on until right before you upgrade, as it can lead to significant downtime if it turns out that your apps aren’t compatible. And it’s not just Microsoft apps you have to worry about — explore the relationship with the apps you use that rely on the underlying Windows operating system and plan for remediation and compatibility testing.

2. Does my hardware fit? If you’re upgrading your operating system, you should consider if your workstations are optimised or whether you need to arrange for procurement of new ones. Knowing the hardware you will need now will help in forecasting your budget and also guide decisions around whether hosting certain applications in the cloud makes better sense.

3. Is it time to incorporate additional desktop services? Don’t narrow your Windows XP upgrade scope to just an operating system refresh. You could also use the occasion to take advantage of software asset management, volume licensing services and desktop support. Incorporating these services into your desktop migration strategy could help lower total cost of ownership, reduce business risk and improve IT management.

4. What user training will I need to conduct? If you’re upgrading to Windows 7 or 8 or Office Standard 2013, you’ll need to make sure your end users get up to speed before completing deployment. Choosing a few evangelists to test-pilot the new products and then arranging for training and post-deployment support through a managed services provider can ensure a streamlined approach.

To help you transition out of Windows XP, Office 2003 or both, Datacom is offering four different discounts on select Microsoft products, including Windows 8, if you purchase by June 21. We can also help your organisation take advantage of holistic desktop services to streamline your deployment and align your desktop strategy with your business needs.

The Real Reasons PC Sales are Dropping – and Why It’s Not the End of the Enterprise Desktop

IDC just announced that global PC sales are down for the second year in a row, with enterprise desktop sales in particular to get hit especially hard  by 4.2 per cent compared to the overall 1.3 per cent PC slump. These statistics buoy the anti-enterprise desktop brigade, which is rallying for tablets and mobile devices to replace the workplace PC. But mobility is only part of the poor PC purchases picture, and it’s not even for the reason many people assume. Here are some of the factors contributing to the drop in enterprise desktop sales  and why the trend likely doesn’t signal the end of the PC.

Waiting for the new OS upgrade

We’re a year away from the end of support for Windows XP, yet it’s still too early for many organisations to procure new PC hardware to accompany a refresh, which is likely why IDC has said it expects enterprise desktop sales to begin bouncing back in the second half of 2013. Whilst this might be the case for upgrades to Windows 7, Datacom has found that some organisations already using that OS are waiting to see if Windows 8 adoption increases amongst enterprises. If it doesn’t, these organisations might skip Windows 8 altogether and hold on to Windows 7 or wait for the next OS, reported to be called Windows Blue and due for release mid-year. These scenarios will all contribute to whether the IDC’s prediction of resumed positive PC growth for 2014 to 2017 will in fact come true.

Mobility first  but not in place of enterprise desktops

IDC has reported that mobility is factoring into declining PC sales, but it’s more because organisations are choosing to buy enterprise mobile devices before, not in place of, new enterprise desktops. Instead of taking a side in enterprise desktop vs. mobile, organisations are attempting to have a well-rounded device profile that incorporates PCs, tablets and phones. It makes sense then that they’d hold onto their current enterprise desktops until an OS upgrade forces them to refresh, choosing instead to stockpile less costly enterprise mobile devices to be used for optimised capabilities such as answering emails and video and audio conferencing. A separate IDC report shows organisations are still favouring enterprise desktops, particularly laptop PCs, to both create and consume content.

Enduring PC processing speeds

recent PCWorld column posits that desktop sales are declining because CPU performance has reached a point where it is fast enough for average users to be able to use their PCs for twice as long as the old three-year refresh standard suggests. This has to do with both the evolution of processing speeds and more resource-intensive processes or applications shifting from being desktop-based to being delivered through cloud computing. Organisations where the bulk of PC users rely on their enterprise desktops for email or business applications  and even some of these might be cloud-based or accessed mostly from mobile devices — won’t require as regular upgrades to PCs with faster CPU performance. Their enterprise desktops will continue to perform better for longer.

Are you planning an enterprise desktop refresh in the coming year, or are your prioritising the procurement of mobile devices over PCs for your organisation?

3 Points to Consider Before Optimising Your Workstations for Windows 8

With Windows 8 officially on the market, there are several aspects of the newly-released operating system that enterprises should evaluate before deciding to plan for transitioning.

The enterprise technology landscape, always prone to rapid transformation, is evolving yet again due in large part to the BYOD phenomenon and the growing availability of tablets and smart phones. Before optimising your company’s workstations for Windows 8, there are three critical things to be mindful of now to streamline the switch.

1. BYOD integration: Windows 8 has a user learning curve; one challenge will be integrating different applications from the new OS with each of your employee’s well-worn platforms.  Because Windows 8 is the first operating system meant to translate across desktop, PC and mobile devices, it’s probably best for companies to test the OS on multiple devices to gauge accessibility on each. Furthermore, companies may want to consider which employees might be better candidates for using the OS, such as staff members who travel often, or work in remote locations.

Companies integrating BYOD into their IT policies should look into Windows RT, a “lighter” version of the OS, specifically designed for mobile devices and tablets. Microsoft claims Windows RT is designed to preserve battery life and is compatible with smaller and less expensive devices. Users may find, however, that they can’t run some traditional business software. The system won’t run any desktop Windows applications aside from the applications packaged with it, which excludes Outlook. Businesses should also be especially wary of the inability for Windows RT to connect to a Windows Active Directory Domain, a service that essentially enforces security policies on computers in a network.

2. Security implications: Implementing Windows 8’s new safety features may take some getting used to. Due to the complexity of new hacking techniques, software developers have restructured how users access corporate data. A new addition to Windows 8 is a graphical password, targeted to tablet users, which requires users to connect dots to gain access. A key part of the operating system’s strengthened security is its Secure Boot mode, which combats low-level security exploits and malware. Also to note: In recent years, browsers have become points of entry for security breaches. Windows 8 features a more secure Internet Explorer browser, enhanced with a permission configuration called AppContainer.

3. App store utilisation: In Windows 8, Microsoft has included a new app store that may one day compete with Apple’s own App store. The store boasts a revenue-sharing plan for apps that generate $25,000 or more, fewer regulations for app developers and mostly free apps. The mobile operating system can be extended to PCs directly without processing through store infrastructure. Through Windows 8, enterprise IT administrators have the ability to dictate employee access to company-specific apps. With this power, IT departments can customise their company app management and software experience for Windows 8. However, custom apps only available to employees or IT departments must be deployed manually and not through the app store for Windows 8.

Even if you get a good handle on these three areas of consideration when optimising for Windows 8, your organisation might still want to take advantage of outside consulting to make the upgrade more seamless. An IT provider that can offer assistance with desktop deployment, desktop support and volume licensing can take much of the headache out of your Windows 8 upgrade.

To learn more about integrating Windows 8 into your enterprise, download the video highlights version of our recent Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 event held at Microsoft Australia headquarters in Sydney.

The Desktop and the Mobile Device: A Case of Either Or?

Before its release last week, Windows 8 was already blazing a polarising line between diehard desktop-lovers and members of the mobile device movement. The first camp proclaimed there’d always be room for the desktop and that the mobile device will never allow for the level or productivity and task completion a standard PC does.Windows 8, the latter camp proudly cheered, will send the classic desktop to its deathbed as more employees give first priority to their personal mobile device.

As organisations consider how far to dip their toes into mobility, it’s important to remind them that at this point, both desktop and mobile computing are still theirs for the taking. There is no computing ultimatum right now, and there might not ever be. What makes more sense than choosing which side of the dividing line to stand on is determining how both computing styles can fit the many and varied needs of your organisation.

The mobile device fills the gap

Think of mobility as a way to ensure productivity continues even when your employees are away from their desks. A report from PricewaterhouseCoopers entitled “The re‑emergence of enterprise mobility” describes the mobile device as an “intelligent network node.” Specifically, the mobile device offers more modes of contact than desktops: email, phone, text, video, chat and social media. This increases the chance you will be able to reach employees in some capacity while they’re on the road.     

Sharing content between the desktop and the mobile device

There are tools and applications that enable you to share content across devices, making it easier to integrate mobility into your desktop strategy. For instance, organisations can share their SharePoint portals on tablets and mobile phones with mobile web apps and customised mobile solutions. Employees can then access the same documents and calendarsthey use on their desktops. SharePoint 2013 will offer even more options in the form of new mobile browser experiences.

The desktop and the mobile device: What works for your industry?

CIO Australia article from earlier this year suggests that certain industries may be more primed for mobility than others. These are usually organisations with highly mobile employees, remote employees and employees needing to share data frequently throughout the day. Supply chain processes, disaster recovery and business continuity capability and social networking are also good areas for mobile optimising.

Before you start letting a flurry of personal devices into your organisation, consult with an IT provider that can help your business plot its desktop-mobility strategy. Datacom experts can share insight on every aspect of your deployment, from hardware procurement for both the desktop and the mobile device through to licensing and security.

Highlights of our Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 Event with Microsoft

With Windows Server 2012 seven weeks out in the market and Windows 8 due for release Friday, Datacom this morning hosted an informational event on both products for enterprise customers at the Microsoft Australia headquarters just outside Sydney.

Microsoft IT Pro Evangelist Jeff Alexander gave an overview and live demo of the features of both products. A full video of Jeff’s presentation will be available next week (find out how to get a copy at the end of this post). For the time-being, here are some of the highlights of the Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 event.

Windows Server 2012 

  • Allows scaling and securing of workloads through a multi-tenant infrastructure
  • Automation enabled across the data centre through cross-platform capabilities
  • Active Directory is at the core of what Windows Server 2012 offers, enabling large-scale cloud deployments
  • Offers a complete virtualisation platform, with the ability to do network virtualisation as well
  • Unlimited ability to do live migrations
  • More virtual machine storage without downtime
  • Windows Server 2012 has 64 virtual processers per VM compared with four in Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Users can still access workloads on original host while moving VM data to a single location
  • Failure recovery happens in minutes and there is secure replication across networks
  • New local Resilient File System (ReFS) increases data availability and scalability, offers rapid recovery and is resilient to power outages

Windows 8

  • Windows 8 is an attempt to answer to the “blurring” of work and life and BYOD
  • Made for touch, but users can still use a keyboard and mouse
  • Devices optimised for Windows 8 will be available on the OS’s release date Friday — there will be midnight sales through select hardware vendors
  • All apps are front and centre, can be squashed to allow for a smaller, longer view of the app stream
  • Segmented by Start, the apps used every day, News and Games

To sign up for a link to a video of the full presentation on Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, enter your details into the contact form in this link.

What are you eager to learn about Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012?

2 Things to Consider When Upgrading to Windows 8

Love it or leave it, Windows 8 is almost here. Some love its new look and feel – the touch-enabled tiles especially –, while others prefer to stick with Windows XP and Windows 7 for now.

Organisations will largely base their decision on whether or not to upgrade to Windows 8 from Windows 7, Windows XP or another operating system on budget and how the new OS benefits their specific business. For those considering the leap, two of the most important factors to weigh include hardware and Windows 8 training for you workforce.

1. The right hardware 

Reportedly, Windows 8 will work with any hardware that can run Windows 7. That doesn’t mean, however, that everything will be compatible between Windows 7 and Windows 8 (Windows XP will prove trickier, as told in this PCWorld piece). Certain applications and hardware drivers might be incompatible; identifying Windows 8 compatibility with networking hardware will be crucial.

If you’re doing a hardware refresh without migrating to Windows 8 right now, but are considering it for the future, look into laptops or desktops offering ten-point touch to make the transition from Windows 7 or Windows XP easier. Datacom’shardware procurement services can help you purchase and acquire the compatible hardware for Windows 8.

2. Training time and resources

Because it’s a touch-first operating system, Windows 8 will likely require considerable more training for new users than Windows 7 or Windows XP. Some reports estimate that it will cost hundreds of dollars per user each day to train employees for Windows 8. Remember, too, that usability goes beyond the basics. Employees should be as productive on Windows 8 as they were on Windows XP or Windows 7.

Organisations must determine how much budget, time and staff they need to train the entire workforce (and don’t base it on how long it took to train employees for Windows 7 or Windows XP). They should measure how long it will take to get back to the productivity levels seen with Windows 7 or Windows XP and ensure they can account for downtime. A phased approach to deployment, a pilot user group and training materials will likely contribute to a successful Windows 8 training and deployment.

Ensuring you have support, whether from the internal IT department or an external IT provider or both, will factor largely into the success of your Windows 8 deployment. An IT provider like Datacom can help plan and roll out your Windows 8 deployment, provide licensing expertise related to software used for Windows 8 and offer desktop support post-deployment.

Attention Sydney readers: Datacom and Microsoft are hosting a free informational session on Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 this Wednesday, 24th October, at 8:30 a.m. at the Microsoft offices in North Ryde. If you’re interested in attending the event or receiving the post-event materials, fill out the contact form at the right of this blog post.