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Windows 8 in government

Windows 8 and the PC vs. tablet debate

Last week I wrote about how PCs, despite hitting a sales slump, were still very much alive in government service. As part of that piece I pointed out that two recently issued contracts will effectively give Microsoft and Windows 8 not only a foothold, but almost total dominance over military computers for the foreseeable future.

This led to a fair number of comments about PC usage in government and Windows 8 specifically. One reader identified as Paul came out swinging, saying: "Shame on you. Bad article, untrue and just plain ridiculous. Windows 8 is awful, so bad they are going to stop supporting it quickly. No one likes it, it is unusable and just plain stinks. All users in the government could use a smart phone or tablet for a computer."

Reader Niles Weston was quick to counter, writing: "Don't think that just because you don't like it that nobody else does. I use Windows 8 now and work in government, in the military side of the house. It was a little odd at first, but now I navigate it just fine. And from what my bosses say, they are happy with the security aspects of it compared with what we were running before."

Zak capped the argument, saying: "I always find it funny when people mention the death of PCs. I have to wonder what kind of work they are doing. I've been using tablets since before iPad and Android but have never found them to be all that useful except as portable toys. If you're doing any real work like data analysis then you need the processing power and memory of a desktop/laptop."

Col. Panek added that he uses desktops, but he's Windows-free. "I'm getting along fine with my 2-5 year old PCs, after I converted them to Linux. Goodbye, Microsoft!"

Now CNN Money is reporting that consumers are weighing into the Windows 8 debate too,  with their pocketbooks. According to the report, the launch of Windows 8 in the third quarter of last year led to a 23 percent increase in overall Windows sales. That translated into a 19 percent profit increase overall for Microsoft. That's not bad in an era of slumping PC sales. The up-tick led Microsoft CFO Peter Klein to say in a press release that it validates the company's new strategy of selling devices such as the Surface that run Windows 8 and the redesign of the operating system in general.

I don’t want to say "I told you so," but yeah, I did. I spent months working with Windows 8 while it was still in development and soon after it was released, evaluating it for government service, and that included usability. My comprehensive testing found that it was, in fact, ready for government service.

That the public at large is also embracing it shows that the benefits are far-reaching and universal. It does take a little getting used to at first, but once that slight learning curve is crested, it’s a stable, secure OS that is also quite easy to use. And if it sits on top of a powerful desktop PC to drive applications, so much the better.

Posted by John Breeden II on Apr 23, 2013 at 9:39 AM


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