Windows 8.1 First Impressions

Is the Update a Viable Business Platform?

Lane Shelton

There’s been something missing from the Windows 8 platform that gives a large number of our business customers pause, and we understand the concerns. Windows 8 was a radical departure from the Windows we’ve all been using since the early days. Flashing tiles, a new interface layered on top of a traditional interface in one OS – we heard time and again from customers large and small that it was too much change. Many of those same customers just finished rolling out Windows 7, or were somewhere in the middle of their refresh to 7, and Windows 8 proved to be a bridge too far.

Underneath the flashing tiles, however, was a vision: a single operating system environment for the BYOD age, where users demand a panoply of devices best suited to their style of work, from touch tablets to desktops. Windows 8 was supposed to be the unifying platform that would enable a business to transform their computing environment while minimizing, even controlling the chaos. But it didn’t quite get us there.

Microsoft has now released the preview of Windows 8.1, formerly code-named “Windows Blue” in order to make their unified OS vision a better fit for business. Most businesses today thrive on a combination of innovation and stability. We need to innovate in order to grow and stay ahead of our competition, but we must do so in a way that doesn’t disrupt our workflows. Windows 8.0 went too far toward innovation, and was perceived as too disruptive in most business environments. Does Windows 8.1 strike a better balance?

As consumers, we (the authors of this series and unapologetic geeks) liked Windows 8. Although we are geeks, we also have jobs to do that include using our computers 40+ hours a week, so we also consider ourselves business users who can appreciate all of the concerns we heard from customers.

In this series, we’ll present a fresh look at the changes in the platform with version 8.1. We decided to install the Preview version and go with first impressions, as that’s what most of our customers will do. We’ll present two main themes:

  1. Does Windows 8.1 provide a viable platform for a business organization?
  2. What is the new 8.1 interface like and will it appeal more to business users?

Is 8.1 worth further consideration? Stay tuned. First up: the return of the Start button.

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