While still the most popular operating system in the enterprise, including at midsize businesses, Microsoft Windows 7’s reality in this new age of business computing is that it is slowly losing market share. Mobile operating systems, like Android and iOS, and even Mac OS are quickly making inroads, largely driven by BYOD policies implemented by IT departments in the last few years.
Even with Windows 7 losing market share, Microsoft still rules the roost, however, as an overall analysis of current computer platform use at the enterprise revealed in late April at CITEWorld. Some businesses still use Windows XP. These companies still using XP need to take note that Microsoft is discontinuing support for the OS in April 2014.
Windows 8 Still to Come for the Midsize Business
In contrast to the leadership status held by Windows 7, Microsoft’s new OS, Windows 8, is making small inroads at the corporate level. Many midsize businesses appear hesitant to adopt 8, due to concerns about the usability of and training issues involved in rolling out the new tile-based operating system. Expect the next version of Windows to take steps to improve usability, including returning the Start button, and possibly offering an option to boot-up to the classic Desktop, instead of the newer Metro interface screen.
The CITEWorld article analyzes statistics revealed in a Forrest Research report on the growing operating system diversity at the enterprise. One statistic that perfectly illustrates the migration to alternate operating systems shows that while 67 percent of all computing devices were powered by a version of Windows in 2008, today 70 percent use alternatives. Of course, the rapid growth of mobile devices at the workplace played a major role in the increased diversity.
The Midsize Business Needs to Embrace Operating System Diversity
Even with Windows 7 losing market share, it is still a very popular OS at the midsize business. If the next version of Windows improves some of the issues with Windows 8, Microsoft will continue to maintain a role in business computing. Still, functional alternatives to Redmond exist and need to be considered at enterprises of all sizes.
A forward-thinking midsize business needs to allow for diversity in operating system choice, especially when considering mobile devices. As Cloud computing continues to grow in importance, hybrid tablet/notebook computers allow employees access to their work from home. A BYOD policy needs to consider this type of use, as it allows for improved efficiency as well as a potentially better work-life balance for employees. IT executives responsible for operating system choice at the midsize business need to realize that the days of one dominant operating system are over.