Even though most companies won't bother with Windows 8 for at least another two years, we just heard from a CTO who is moving 4,000 PCs to Windows 8 as fast as he can.
He's buying thousands of Microsoft Surface PCs instead of iPads, too.
Windows 8 is just plain faster than Windows 7, he says. That's true even on old machines and with old software, he told Business Insider. (He asked not to be identified because his employer hasn't authorized him to speak about his company's technology strategy.)
In his tests, he said apps ran "15%-20%" faster on Windows 8 over Windows 7. That's a "noticeable" difference, he says.
"Any app that runs on Windows 7 runs better on Windows 8," he said, because Windows 8 needs less memory and boots faster. "It's a hell of a lot more responsive."
Because it's faster, he thinks many businesses will upgrade old Windows 7 machines to Windows 8, too, just to use Windows 7 apps in desktop mode. (We're not sure we agree. We tend to think that most companies won't move to Windows 8 until they buy new touch-enabled PCs, since Windows 8 feels clunk when used on non-touch PCs.)
Granted, this CTO also has about 1,000 Windows 7 machines and he's not going to upgrade them to Windows 8 right away, though he plans to do that eventually, too.
Over the next year, his team will first decommission about 4,000 old PCs and buy Microsoft Surface Pro tablets, which runs the full version of Windows 8, not the RT version. The Surface Pro PC hasn't been released yet but is expected to available by Februrary.
"For a large part of the executive team, we do need mobile devices and we were leaning towards the iPad," he said. "That's that's changed with the Surface."
"The big killer app for us is Office," he said. "We want to do Office natively" on the device because there's better compatibility when running old Office documents than using an iPad app like Apps To Go, he said. Plus, the Surface runs Adobe software like Flash.
As for training users to figure out Windows 8, he says it will be no harder than making them switch to an iPad.
"Windows 8 drives you batty for exactly four hours … seriously," he said. "Get yourself a Surface and it takes you a day to get used to keyboard and it takes about four hours to learn the touch interface."
We have to admit, this CTO makes a compelling case for Microsoft. If IT professionals like Widows 8—and evidence is mounting that they do—then the new OS will be a hit. They will buy it for large businesses, which are Microsoft's most important customers.
That doesn't mean Microsoft will convince the majority of its business customers to move to Windows 8 right away. Because of the big snafu that was Vista, coupled with the economic crash in 2009, most of them have only recently finished upgrading to Windows 7. They'll stick with that for a couple of years until their Windows 7 PCs are fully depreciated and off the books, typically three to five years.
But with nearly $67 billion of cash on hand, Microsoft can afford to wait.
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