back to article So: 6,500 Win 8 laptops later, how are BT's field engineers coping?

An unheard-of decline in PC sales figures since launch, a grumbling press and a user base that struggles without a touchscreen: Windows 8 is easy to take a swipe at. Yet BT announced in November last year it was deploying 5,900 Win 8 Panasonic Toughbooks for its "last mile" Openreach division – the engineers who walk the line …

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Joke

Re: @mutatedwombat

ODC?

That's CDO (in alphabetical order as it should be!)

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Re: signature capture ?

I always sign somebody else's name, often politicians I dislike ... and there are many to choose from.

I once signed a speeding fine in France with the name of famous German dictator ... perfectly readable ... no problems at all.

A hotel I often go to has figured it out and lets me do it ... they know the company will pay anyway ... ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: signature capture ?

This is just so so sad. :-)

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Facepalm

Gotta admit, skimmed a little, but I didn't see anything that Windows 8 enabled over the same hardware with Windows 7, and without getting initial drop in productivity while they struggle to get that Metro UI crap off their screen and into the applications they actually want.

But hey, I'm not writing puff advertisment pieces and passing them off as journalism.

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"I'm not writing puff advertisment pieces and passing them off as journalism"

Nah, you're just writing a typical Windows 8 hater comment.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "I'm not writing puff advertisment pieces and passing them off as journalism"

"but for now, a substantial number of its engineers are feeling the benefit of nifty new PC hardware rather than touchy feely software"

There is nothing in this story (apart from one "tiles offer neat shortcuts" comment) which demonstrates Windows 8 is of any benefit over 7.

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Re: "I'm not writing puff advertisment pieces and passing them off as journalism"

And you seem to be writing the typical defending the indefensible comment similar to a Microsoft shill. As he said, there is nothing in the article where engineers particularly praised Windows 8. Nothing that couldn't have been done in Windows 7.

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JDX
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Re: "I'm not writing puff advertisment pieces and passing them off as journalism"

There are several pro-W8 comments, and precisely 1 pro-Metro comment.

But I guess reading the article and stating facts makes me a shill.

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Anonymous Coward

@ JDX

Several pro-W8 comments and 1 pro-Metro comment, which you were unable to quote to add weight to your argument...

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JDX
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Re: @ JDX

It's not my job to baby-feed it to you. The article is literally one click away.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "I'm not writing puff advertisment pieces and passing them off as journalism"

"There is nothing in this story (apart from one "tiles offer neat shortcuts" comment) which demonstrates Windows 8 is of any benefit over 7."

I thought that too, then realised that so does the Windows 7 desktop, without having to press the Windows key to get to it.

Also, their screenshots are pretty much always in desktop mode using a stylus so really "massive square shortcuts" is the only real benefit they've touched on.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ JDX

Haha, good one - "no, I'm not going to demonstrate my belief to you with, y'know, evidence and fact, I'm just gonna sit here and claim it's true, with my fingers in my ears, lalalalalalalalaa"

I've read it again, and apart from the one tiles-as-shortcut comment, there is no compelling advantage mentioned W8 brought over W7.

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@AC 09:37 Re: "I'm not writing puff advertisment ....... "

"There is nothing in this story (apart from one "tiles offer neat shortcuts" comment) which demonstrates Windows 8 is of any benefit over 7."

Win2K to Win XP had shortcuts. They had user definable pop-out menu bars with user definable layout and appearance that contained user definable icons that were user definable shortcuts to whatever the user wanted. Then, in Win 7, Microsoft removed them!

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JDX
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Re: @ JDX

The tiles comment is the one METRO-specific comment, which I already pointed out. I'll give you a clue... every review of W8 has said it is faster and better than W7 in desktop mode. No go read the damn article a 3rd time and you'll spot mention of super-quick standby/reboot/etc. These are all areas W8 improves on W7.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ JDX

"...start up times are substantially better than previous kit.

This will be a factor that the on-board SSD makes a large contribution to."

So again, down to the new hardware and whizzy SSD, not Windows 8.

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Re: "I'm not writing puff advertisment pieces and passing them off as journalism"

>There is nothing in this story ...

The other thing in this story is that in-spite of what some MS fanboy's have been saying that Win8 is a consumer release, it will be deployed into the Enterprise. So we were right to raise questions about the missing enterprise features ...

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FAIL

"now they just carry an iPhone"

Says it all really, all the whohar over a W8 laptop but they don't use a W8 mobile.

I suspect that the laptops are highly locked down with only the few tools on the screen they need to use so in some sense its not really metro they are using, just chuffing large shortcuts on the desktop.

It does make you wonder why if they can do the same job using an iphone why BT didn't just have a cheap tablet.

Seems there was a very large discounted deal to be had to get MS's sales figures up.

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JDX
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Re: "now they just carry an iPhone"

They already had the iPhones... if they're running 7yo laptops they are not going to drop 6000 iPhones and a bespoke app.

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Re: "now they just carry an iPhone"

Thinking back to the days when I needed to do things like working on frames like those I would much rather have a phone than a tablet. The main reason being that I would generally have a tool or some test equipment in the one hand and the reference information in the other hand. You can then check the appropriate connections with confidence and if you need a second hand you can just put the phone in your pocket.

As for the comments about Windows 8, the article didn't give me any confidence that there was an advantage to it over Windows 7 and having tried it several times I can say with confidence that I won't be using it unless I am brutally forced to. Other than that I didn't see it as a shill article; it was an interesting review of a difficult deployment to replace a complex legacy system.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "now they just carry an iPhone"

Is it likely that one company buying a few thousand seats is going to make any noticeable difference to the sales figures of a product that comes pre-installed on pretty much every single new PC sold in the world? I don't think it will.

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Interesting but.....

I can't help but wonder for how much of the change is Windows 8 critical. It seems to me much more like they have taken a multi-years old working methodology and taken advantage of recent technology to fix it.

A good advert for Windows 8 to be fair but I suspect that they could have almost any current OS to get the same benefits, especially as the mention that changing from Windows Xp was such a significant part of the upheaval.

Whilst change for the sake of change is normally not good, any business process needs to be shown the light of day once in a while to see if it is still appropriate and can result in improvements.

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Win 8 is a grower

I would characterise my experiences with Win 8 as follows; 2 days of excitement at the speed gains and all the shiny newness of Win 8. A week of fear and loathing as all the changes sink in. Now month after month of growing appreciation of the OS. It was brave of MS to release this in one go but, hey, who would go back to Office without the ribbon now. I love it!

Mind you, BT need a special edition of Win 8 to translate their indecipherable emails that the staff receive on an hourly basis. You know, the ones talking about 'Knowledge towers', 'reverse business process engineering' and , God forbid, the fact that one of their business unit managers has 'had a vision'.

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Re: Win 8 is a grower

I would recommend anyone retries Office without the ribbon. I was quite amazed at how easy it was to find and use functions on Office XP compared to the usual hunting and cursing I do with Office 2010.

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Re: Win 8 is a grower

"compared to the usual hunting and cursing I do with Office 2010"

It occurs to me that the problem cited here isn't the ribbon as such, but rather the placement of stuff on the various pages of the ribbon. As I use Off2010 more, I'm getting used to where the stuff is on the ribbon (and a lot of the stuff I use is on the default initial page of the ribbon), so it is becoming easier. It's made harder because I have also had to learn what they called things in French...

And the menubar fanbois would do well to remember the bad habit that Bill's Boys had, of moving commands around the menus at each new version of Office. I distinctly remember a version of Office where "Page setup" (where you set up margins and so on) was part of the Format menu, not part of the File menu. Then I got Office97, and had to forget all that...

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Re: Win 8 is a grower

Agreed, I really can't believe that most/any of the Win8 haters have actually tried it. I keep reading comments implying that people are forced to use 'the touch interface' when using Win8 on a desktop, which is utter bollocks. If you're on a desktop, the only issue is that, when (after about 5 seconds from hitting the power button) the new and terrifying Start screen appears, you just have to suppress the rising panic long enough to click 'Desktop' and you're back to a completely normal Win7 desktop, fully mouse-/keyboard-controlled and with absolutely no requirement to use any special 'touch' interface at all.

This quote from the article:

"Even so, Norton remarks that most still use the device in clamshell mode, “because there’s an adjustment period until they get used to a new way of working and operating it in a slate form”."

gives the game away - any trouble the BT OpenReach people had was due to being required to switch to working in slate form. There was absolutely no need for OpenReach to make that switch just because they moved to Win8 - they could have carried on using the old XP apps (perhaps with a few minor tweaks) if they'd chosen that path, but they didn't.

My Win8 desktop is set up with VS2010, Firefox, Thunderbird, PaintShop Pro, Blender, Google Earth, FoxIt Reader, OpenOffice, Putty, Xming, all with absolutely no problems.

It makes me laugh a bit when I read comments to the effect that these Reg articles are just thinly-veiled Microsoft marketing. It must be very confusing to be inside the hater's heads... "Microsoft is an evil, stupid, hopeless dinosaur of a company with no future... what have they done to my lovely Windows 7, that was a beautiful, wonderful, fantastic OS, the work of the most noble geniuses... oh, wait."

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Re: Win 8 is a grower

"Microsoft is an evil, stupid, hopeless dinosaur of a company with no future... what have they done to my lovely Windows 7, that was a beautiful, wonderful, fantastic OS, the work of the most noble geniuses... oh, wait."

Not really. Win 7 was good enough - a bit better than Win XP, which was also good enough, finally.

Win 8 has some technical improvements and is a bit faster. But what real benefits does the UI offer?

Everyone is saying 'Well, I got used to it.'

Excellent! Why did you have to get used to it? What critical life-changing computing tasks can you do with Win 8 that were impossible on Win 7?

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Re: Win 8 is a grower

@TheOtherHobbes

"What critical life-changing computing tasks can you do with Win 8 that were impossible on Win 7?"

On a desktop - none. That's beside the point. I'm trying to offer an experienced opinion to counteract the myriad voices saying 'Win 8 is rubbish", "I'll never use Win 8 unless I'm forced", "Win 8's UI is horribly broken", etc etc. Once you get past the Start screen, which itself isn't as bad as people make out, it's just an incremental improvement over Win 7. Personally I much prefer the muted aesthetic in 8 - I moved to Win 8 when upgrading to a new machine in December and find it much easier on the eye than the awful visual bling that Vista (and 7, to some extent) was afflicted with ("16.7 million colours?! Really?! Let's use all of them!").

If you're using Win 7 on a desktop now, there's absolutely no rush to upgrade, carry on as long as you like. When/if you move to Win 8, you will NOT find the transition to be 'difficult' or 'painful' so long as you can remember how to press the Windows key on your keyboard (maybe write it on a Post-It if you have trouble with this).

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Facepalm

Re: Win 8 is a grower

I know it's crazy isn't it.

Just hitting Enter after start up shifts me into Desktop and that's where I stay for the rest of the day. Metro/Modern never appears till I switch it back on again the next day. Metro time per day? About 1 second.

And we keep saying, like concerned parents with puzzled looks on our faces as though talking to a distressed 5 year old, "but you don't have to use Metro!"

Yet the haters just still keep going "but I have to use Metro!" or "You cant avoid Metro!" or "Metro is unusable!"

You do really have to wonder at whether they have actually used the damn thing or their claimed level of IT proficiency.

Never has so much hate and anger been wasted on something so trivial and almost non-existent.

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Re: Win 8 is a grower

The real benefit of the Windows 8 UI is when you are using it on a hybrid device or a tablet. Most traditional desktop users won't understand these benefits. But as soon as you use one of these new hybrid devices, that's when you really see the benefits of Windows 8.

See, Apple deliberately seperate the tablet from the desktop - there is no crossover. But that means that quite often, Apple users need to carry two devices - an iPad and a Macbook. It also means that an OSX application can't be run on the iPad and an iPad app can't be run on the Macbook.

The benefit of Windows 8 is that it allows you to carry a single device, which can be used as a tablet or as a laptop, or even as a desktop base unit, and you can run both tablet apps and full desktop apps on the same device, as and when you need. It allows you, the user, to opt for the device which best meets your usage scenarios by choosing a suitable hybrid. Some people want a tablet which can be used as a desktop, some want mainly a laptop which can also be used occasionally as a tablet, some want mainly a tablet which can occasionally be used as a laptop, etc etc. Windows 8 is what facilitates this wide choice of devices for different users.

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Re: Win 8 is a grower

Except when you decide to run another program, and poof, back to Metro until you find it.

Terribly annoying when you have TV playing in one corner, and IM on a second, and want to have sonething productive in a third (that's right MS, I like having THREE programs open!)

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Re: Win 8 is a grower

@Chad H

Erm just set your application defaults to the desktop ones. Have you not done that before? I've got three or four items of software open on my Windows 8 desktop right now. Still haven't seen Metro since 9.03am this morning.

I rolled out a Windows 8 laptop to a 75 year old lady yesterday. She took to it just fine. In fact she was really pleased with it. I skyped her today to check up and she's still there, happy and getting on with it.

At no time did she jump up and down screaming that it was terrible, pissed her pants, threw shit around the room and shouted "Windows 8 lover FAGGGG!!" in my face.

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Re: Win 8 is a grower

@Chad H.

If you know which program you want to use, hit 'Windows key + R' and start it from there. That's only the first time, then you pin it to the taskbar (or create a Desktop shortcut) and you're golden. If you regularly need to go to Metro to find yet another program whose name you've forgotten, which I accept is a bit jarring to the user experience, then you're probably doing something wrong.

@Everyone

Please stop referring to 'the Windows 8 UI'; if you're whinging specifically about Metro / the Start screen, please make that clear. If you've got a problem with the Windows 8 desktop, please explain what it is. The Start screen / Metro and the Desktop are two different, complementary ways to use the same machine.

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FAIL

@Chad H. Re: Win 8 is a grower

What utter gibberish.

I run loads of app's at the same time, across multiple monitors and very rarely do I look at the Metro UI. The only time you would go to Metro is for little used app's (and that doesn't include Control Panel, which you can have as a pop-up menu on your desktop toolbar). Any app that you use regularly I would expect to be pinned to your desktop, just like every version of Windows since 95. If you want to de-clutter, create a folder with short-cuts to all your app's in it and add that as a pop-up on your toolbar.

Here's an even better thought, if you don't like how it's working right now - change it. It's kind of the point, that you can make it act however you want it too.

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Re: @Chad H. Win 8 is a grower

This after years of a cluttered desktop being considered bad form?

Can I make the start menu act like a start menu and not needlessly take over the whole desktop space (without third party utilities?)

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Re: @Chad H. Win 8 is a grower

Oh dear, MS wants to copy Apple yet again, and this time they succeeded partially.

They've created MS fanboi legions that are as defensive of their crap as the Apple fanbois are! Admit it, TIFKA Metro looks like an oversized Fabulous Fred and is fugly to use! This article at no point mentions any improvement by the Metro interface.

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Re: @Chad H. Win 8 is a grower

No, all we are saying is if you don't like Metro then you don't have to use it.

There is no gun to your head. When you actually get round to trying it properly you'll find that quite quickly.

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Re: @Chad H. Win 8 is a grower

So you don't use the Taskbar that on a standard 1920x1080p panel will accommodate around 25 applications?

Maybe another dozen on the desktop for lesser used applications? So thats nearly 40 applications in easy fast reach. You don't have to go crazy, but its not like the days of 3.1 when icons ate up the ram and performance.

Much quicker than drilling down through folder after folder of applications in the Start Menu.

You know things move on and change.

How hard do you find it to buy spats and antimacassars these days?;-)

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Windows

the crucial

line is "we went from underpowered win xp machines to nearly the latest win8 machines with SSD "

Bet they would have got an equal performance gain from buying any new'ish laptop and installing any modern OS on them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: the crucial

erm - which is what they did. New hardware, modern OS.

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improvement not from windows 8

The improvement the engineers are seeing is from having new hardware to run on, although they seem to have downgraded on quality. The old CF-29 was a beast capable of surviving drops from huge height and had no need for a case. The new equivalent would be the CD-31.

It sounds like they're trying to write some windows 8 style apps though so maybe that will make it worthwhile. Somehow I doubt it, I find that as long as you have a keyboard it gets used over an onscreen replica

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Trollface

Re: improvement not from windows 8

Perhaps you'll let me add:

"Problems not from Windows 8 either"

just to give a fully accurate summary.

This is me on starting Win 8 for the first time: "Hmm, a new Start screen, let's explore".

This is (apparently) most IT professionals on starting Win 8 for the first time: "Arrrgghhh what are all those little square things why are they moving what do I do know I don't understand cool wet grass cool wet grass NURSE!!!!!!!!!"

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surprised at the use of iPhones.

No sensible company would tie themselves to Apple as their sole mobile supplier like this. Sounds like a fanboi in the purchasing department.

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JDX
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Re: surprised at the use of iPhones.

I guess there are a lot of non-sensible companies out there. Non-sensible, highly profitable companies.

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Re: surprised at the use of iPhones.

Dear JDX,

Are you actually inferring that the usage of IPhones is somehow related to being highly profitable.

How exactly would that relate to the Chavs then ? They certainly don't appear to be very profitable,although I agree that they are Non-Sensible.

Having a hard day in the office Dear.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: surprised at the use of iPhones.

I doubt you've ever worked in a large corporate if you think the views of a single 'fanboi' can determine purchasing strategy. This stuff gets debated for months, evidence has to be produced showing why the decision taken is the optimum one with the knowledge available, a string of senior managers need to sign it off - corporate decisions take a long time but you can be sure that no one person has had undue influence.

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JDX
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Re: surprised at the use of iPhones.

Never mind Khaptain, if you don't get it you don't get it.

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Re: surprised at the use of iPhones.

B.S. All it takes is one VP to make a decision,and you have a new standard because no Director or C-level manager is going to tell a VP that his new shiny is unsupported.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: surprised at the use of iPhones.

Management chains just caving in to the moaning and bellyaching from the masses wanting to have the latest iPhone to show off when out in the field.

In the long run it's probably still cheaper to shell-out for iPhones then give workers other "benefits" such as pay rises.

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@theodore Re: surprised at the use of iPhones.

Not sure why you got a downvote.

We have iPads for all our "top" management, because a previous CTO decided we needed to look modern and stylish (not to mention, he already had one). Cue the requirement to have wi-fi throughout our buildings and ensuring the firewall/network etc coped with them.

We'll ignore the more pressing concern (at least for those at the front end of IT) that we're still on XP and it's in service life is all but over - we must have the shinies working first!!

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Re: surprised at the use of iPhones.

They like the locked-down aspect of iOS, the Openreach iphones (originally referred to as Ophones) are even more locked down than normal. No way to install other apps and attempting to do anything unauthorised is a sacking offence. Same with the laptops.

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