"I think BYOD has sort of become the watch-word for consumerization of IT," says Justin Pirie, vice president of Cloud Strategy at Mimecast, a provider of unified email management services. "But people mustn't be confused. A lot of organizations are stepping up and saying either BYOD or we're going to supply you a smartphone of your choice. But tablets are still largely employer-owned and provisioned. I think we're going to see even more of that with Windows 8. What I'm seeing is that I think IT departments are going to be buying things like the Microsoft Surface and Windows 8 slates. That's going to bring the slate form factor to a lot more corporate users."
Mike Romp, senior consultant with SWC Technology Partners, an IT consultancy that focuses on mid-sized businesses, agrees. Romp says enterprises he speaks with are taking a serious look at Windows 8 tablets, especially those running x86 chips, because the tablets can run all of Microsoft's productivity applications while IT admins can manage them using the same tools they use for Windows desktops and laptops.
Windows 8 to Windows 7 Won't Mean Big Infrastructure Changes
In fact, Romp says, enterprises that are already Windows 7 shops won't have to alter their infrastructure much at all in order to support Windows 8. He says he believes many shops will run a hybrid environment, with Windows 7 on desktops and laptops and Windows 8 on mobile devices.
"Unlike what we saw in previous generations of operating systems, we expect to see a much more blended environment," Romp says. "One of the strengths that I think will help Windows 8 take off is that it can leverage the same infrastructure that's been built up with Windows 7. We'll see the mobile sales force with Windows 8 tablets, executives with Windows 8 tablets, and a lot of the rest of the enterprise will stay on Windows 7."
"From what I'm seeing, it's incredibly easy [to manage a blended Windows 7/Windows 8 environment]," Romp says, noting that he's been using Windows 8 since the Windows 8 Release Preview was released in May. "All of your policies and configuration settings will still apply. Everything that has worked for me in Windows 7 works for me in Windows 8. Locking down a Windows 8 application may require some additional steps, but I imagine you'll be leveraging the same tools."
Under the Windows 8 Hood