Getting ready for Windows 8

Windows 8 should make the job of managing remote technologies easier for Australian IT leaders, and it won't be long before applications are organising your meetings for you.

With the seemingly unlimited capabilities of today’s smartphones, people are essentially already carrying mini-computers in their pockets at all times.

The truth is, however, that while mobile operating systems are quite powerful, they haven’t been 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.

That paradigm shift will be extremely important here in Australia, where remote working conditions can limit IT, utility and wireless industry positions that now demand full IT support. 

With the 2012 debut of Windows 8 – the first OS capable of running on both desktop and mobile devices – Australian IT leaders managing remote technologies should find their jobs a lot easier.   When executed properly, a cross-platform OS is sure to save organisations both time and money.

Web and mobile application developers, for one, should be able to write just one program that works on both desktop and mobile platforms. This would 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.

The integration of mobile and desktop capabilities could be a high-demand, streamlined solution for Australian enterprises with in-house offices and off-site employees. One combined operating system could help eliminate the potential for losing any information in communication between an organisation’s different employee devices and interfaces, as well as bring new levels of productivity to businesses. 

With telepresence and VoIP maturing in application development, we will have richer functionality. Applications will be intelligent enough to know where you are, that you have a client close by who you are due to catch up with, that both of you have lunch available and that your client likes a good barbeque. It would even be able to recommend where to go—all you’d have to do is make the call and enjoy the lunch. The reality is that this capability will be broadened out to rich marketing data, OH&S, automating processes and sales improvement.

Windows 8 promises to include all of these benefits, as well as unveil a new integrated Windows software store similar to Apple’s App Store. A free preview has already leaked to the public and there has 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.  The revenue share base for all apps in the Windows store will start at 70 per cent (the same as Apple’s), but increase to 80 per cent once the app reaches $25,000 in revenue.

Microsoft is also catering to big businesses looking get involved in (or who 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.” 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.

As the Windows 8 launch date draws nearer, the main questions most organisation leadership teams will now face is: Will Windows 8 truly provide more technology and accessibility to teams in the field? The answer is that it’s too early to tell. It will certainly be an exciting time in software development as the gap between desktop and mobile could be closing for good. 

Todd Gorsuch is a director with IT services provider Datacom.

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