January 03, 2013, 2:52 PM — Even in the best of times, businesses don't like upgrading their PC operating systems. The process is expensive and time-consuming, and usually demands retraining a technically challenged workforce. And now Windows 8 threatens to make workplace system swaps even less attractive than before.
Between the removal of the familiar Start button and the addition of a decidedly non-intuitive tiled interface, Windows 8 has struck fear in the hearts of IT managers worldwide. As a result, few businesses appear to be planning Windows 8 upgrades.
Nevertheless, if you're in the market for new PCs or even an operating system upgrade, there are a number of reasons why your business may benefit from accepting Windows 8. Of course, adopting any new OS imposes a learning curve on users, but once your workforce gets comfortable with Windows 8, its benefits can outweigh its drawbacks.
1. Touchscreen interface
An obvious difference between Windows 8 and its predecessors is its completely revamped interface. The Modern UI (formerly known as "Metro") is designed first and foremost with touch input in mind.
With a tablet or touchscreen desktop monitor, Windows 8 supports cool options such as handwritten note-taking in OneNote and commenting on a Word document by hand using digital ink. Furthermore, once you get used to Windows 8's touch and swipe conventions, the touch-based controls enable you to navigate the OS very effectively. With a tap-and-drag gesture, you can use two apps simultaneously, for example, so you can check email and edit an Excel spreadsheet at the same time. (Here's a closer look at Windows 8 gesture commands.)
From a business perspective, though, the greatest appeal of the touchscreen interface is the new possibilities it opens for Windows 8 PCs. Functions for which many businesses may currently be considering iPad or Android tablets to accomplish could be performed from a Windows 8 tablet or from a PC equipped with a touchscreen monitor. Windows 8 can be used at interactive kiosks, or to enable a salesperson in the field to collect a customer's signature directly on the display.
One of the most common headaches for Windows users--particularly mobile users trying to work from customer sites or remote locations--is finding and connecting to a network. Microsoft has made improvements in Windows 8 that make accomplishing this task easier and more intuitive.