In this final installment of our Windows 8.1 series, we'll get right down to it and let you know why we think this is the OS version that will make your upgrade worthwhile. So if you're thinking about how your future computing environment should look and planning some kind of transformative element in your next refresh cycle, we say give Windows 8.1 a serious look for three reasons:
1. Windows 8.1 strikes a better balance as a unified OS platform - When Microsoft rolled out Windows 8, their goal was to have a unified OS across all form factors, from the desktop PC to the tablet. They came up short with Windows 8, but 8.1 does a much better job of striking the balance between a new interface to support emerging device types, and the need for a traditional experience. Therefore, as a future-proofing exercise, the 8.1 platform provides a way for an organization to standardize across form factors today, and plan for effective and unified support on the form factors of tomorrow.
2. Every user gets the experience that fits their style of work - Whether you're supporting power-desktop users, tablet users, or anything in between, the new features of Windows 8.1 make it possible to roll out the ideal blend of devices to match your specific user profiles.
3. Longer living mainstream support - It is no secret that Windows XP support ends April 8, 2014, and Windows 7 mainstream support ends in October 2014. Many organizations that are today rolling out Windows 7 will find themselves close to the end of mainstream support when they're finally done with the refresh. While this is not the end of the world - many customers lived well in the XP extended support era - the 8.1 platform will provide mainstream support until near the end of 2017 and extended support through 2022.
Windows 8.1 is what Windows 8.0 should have been. On balance, the 8.1 interface is a cleaner, more intuitive experience that will lower the adoption barrier for users that want the Modern interface, even on a traditional form factor like a notebook. Microsoft went too far toward touch devices with 8.0, and they've done a better job bridging the gap with Windows 8.1. On the whole, Microsoft has done in 8.1 what they tried to do with only limited success in the original 8 release - give organizations a reason to look at Windows as a platform rather than just a replacement for XP or 7. And that's why we can recommend it to you.
Windows XP reaches final end-of-life on April 8, 2014. What this means for your organization is that Microsoft will stop providing Service Packs, security patches, and support after that date. It's time to break up with XP; click here to start crafting your exit strategy.