Last year I gladly accepted the opportunity to be a part of the Data#3 Windows 8 pilot program. However to take part in this pilot, it did come with a few requirements. First, I had to surrender my Windows 7 laptop, my iPad and my iPhone (my iPhone was being replaced with a Nokia Lumia 800 running Windows Phone 7). Whilst I am always happy to adopt new technologies, I did initially have my reservations about giving up some devices that I had grown to love. I heavily relied on my iPhone and the services that it provided and I don’t think I need to elaborate on why I required my Windows 7 device.
There were a couple of things I was excited about with the pilot program. My laptop and iPad would be replaced with a Samsung Slate 7 device running Windows 8. This resulted in me getting some new and shiny gadgets to play and with the added bonus of consolidating the number of devices I carry around country with business travel.
Let me start with discussing my transition from the iPhone to the Windows Phone 7. For months I had been listening to customers and other peers at work trying to convince me that the Windows Phone 7 was a much better platform than the iPhone. I wasn’t ready to believe them and even after using the device for a few weeks, I was still yet to be convinced. The main issue to start with was that I was trying to find every application that I was dependant on with the iPhone so I have to find the required app or a replacement to be able to fully utilise this platform. This was also my first experience with the Live Tiles and I realised what a great feature this is. I quickly became addicted to the through the ability to have content update from multiple data sources, in real time, on a single screen. This set me up and I was now excited about the adoption of the Windows 8 Modern UI.
Now let’s focus on the slate and Windows 8. When I think about the things that I thought were great about the iPad, I think of the apps and the portability, but then at the same time when I think about what I disliked about the iPad, again I think of the apps and trying to use an iPad for business use, introduces a number of challenges. These devices are brilliant for content consumption, though fairly limited when it comes to content creation, particularly with no Microsoft Office. I can’t tell you the number of times I received a Word document in email for review and only had access to my iPad. Another limiting factor was the single log-on. I would regularly allow my children or other colleagues to use my iPad. As the iPad only supports a single user profile, the user had access to all my applications including my email, Facebook, App Store, etc. This is also the problem of my children regularly sending random emails or purchasing applications by accident!
With my Systems Management focus, it also frustrated me that they could not be natively managed with existing toolsets and typically required an additional management platform to be introduced. I went into the Data#3 Windows 8 pilot with fairly high expectations surrounding the Windows 8 platform and the mobility solutions it could offer. I wanted that same great experience that I was used to with Windows 7, a device that was going to give me long battery life with great portability and I no longer wanted to have to use multiple devices. Thankfully Windows 8 and the Samsung Slate 7 delivered.
The Windows 8 pilot allowed me to really test the platform in my role at Data#3. There were a couple of adjustments that I needed to make and I required a new set of accessories to provide me the best possible experience. As I had less ram in the slate than in my previous machine, I had to move all the virtual machines that I used to run locally into the Data#3 Solution Centre (this wasn’t a bad thing as I had been meaning to do that for some time now!). Finally, I had to work out what the best working style was going to be for me. One of the greatest changes that Windows 8 brings to its users is choice. Choice in working styles and in hardware form factors.
So I iDetoxified. Am I happy with the change? You bet I am and I encourage everyone to give it a go. There is a lot to be gained from a consistent experience and consistent applications across devices. Windows 8 introduces a number of new features from a platform perspective and whilst the adoption might initially be slow, particularly as Windows 7 was such a successful platform for Microsoft, it will happen. There will definitely be use cases for Windows 8, even if your organisation is happy with Windows 7. And finally, why would you want to carry multiple devices around when you can have a single device that can do it all and be managed using your existing management platform – a mobility strategy at its best! Windows 8, the Windows Phone platform and the Windows Modern UI, all get big ticks from me.
Justin Cook is the Principal Consultant and national lead for the Systems Management and End User Computing solution sets at Data#3. He has been working in the IT industry for over 15 years with a primary focus on Systems Management, in particular the System Center suite of products and Windows desktop deployments. He has worked on some of the largest Systems Management implementations in the country, including companies from Public, Private and Mining sectors. Justin has also presented Systems Management sessions at TechEd and in his current role represents Microsoft in a technical presales capacity at Data#3.