back to article Who's afraid of Windows 8? Trio leads Microsoft migration pack

Windows 8 isn't ideal for many big businesses and government users. In fact, the majority of operations running tens of thousands of PCs are only now replacing Windows XP with Windows 7 at any meaningful scale – despite Microsoft's claims to the contrary. But a few brave businesses are planning on jumping into touch and swipe …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "XP won't run IE8 or 9" ???

    Sent from my XP laptop running IE8

    The true statement would be that Windows 7 must run IE 8 or above, which is an issue for those with IE6 or 7 apps, but not all XP users.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: "XP won't run IE8 or 9" ???

      Another true statement would be that XP won't run IE9 or IE10.

      Since the article makes the point that an IE6 or IE7 dependency is a migration problem , the fact that you can separate the "fix those apps" phase from the "stop using XP" phase makes any Win7 migration easier.

      However, IE8 was released in March 2009. If you still have a serious investment in IE6- or IE7-dependent apps, then perhaps you aren't serious about migrating anyway. Therefore, I'd say that IE6 and IE7 are *not* the main "problem". A deep-seated desire to never change anything is the "problem" and whether that actually is a problem or not depends on the costs and benefits of the change for your enterprise.

      1. Condere

        Re: "XP won't run IE8 or 9" ???

        I have many clients who would love to migrate to newer versions of Windows. Sometime however, that decision isn't up to them. I have one client that has a Win98 box on premises because of a DOS based application that doesn't like anything newer. Haven't spent a lot of time on the "whys", other than to keep some old PCs around while I wait for the local government municipality to write a new program.

        I have another client that does transportation work for another city in my area, who has some poorly written HTML code. For whatever reason, the client refuses to allow me to install Firefox or Chrome on his PCs, so I have to keep some PCs at his location running IE6. I've contacted the IT dept for the government, told them the problem on their end, and have yet to see it fixed many years later.

        1. Epobirs

          Re: "XP won't run IE8 or 9" ???

          Have you tested the app in DOSbox or any of the many other options for running ancient apps on newer systems?

          There are solutions and most of them can be made fairly transparent to the users.

  2. JDX Gold badge

    If they're looking into Windows slates/tablets too, and maybe phones, then perhaps such a migration makes some sense. I can't see a good reason to rush into it otherwise.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    1. Ragarath


      But they changed those features, and you want them back; is that not the definition of afraid of change?

      Thus by your own admition you are afraid of change.

      1. tirk

        Thus by your own admition you are afraid of change.

        You are Joseph Heller and I claim my £5

        1. Ragarath

          Re: Thus by your own admition you are afraid of change.

          I am currently using this vassal to talk to the mortal world. Regrettfully I chose one whom is frikkin broke and cannot supply you with the £5 you require.

          Please except and IOU and when you leave this mortal coil be sure to look me up.

    2. The Original Steve


      One of those "removed features" the caps lock key?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I never have a problem with any windows implemenation.

    Windows 8, bring it on, i'm not scared!

    And I don't complain!

  5. Joe K


    ""They are forward-thinking IT departments and are early adopters – always have been."

    Then everyone in that IT dept needs firing. Only the most ignorant buffoon, and money-wasting morn, overhauls their entire IT infrastructure every time a new bit of shiny is released.

    1. DJ Smiley

      Re: Hmm

      "They are forward-thinking IT departments..."

      Warning MANAGEMENT BUZZ WORDS DETECTED. Remember, this is coming from a company who are paid to HELP you migrate.

    2. toadwarrior

      Re: Hmm

      Or their IT department doesn't mind doing thing every few years that will interrupt their internet browsing and they were smart enough not to get locked into shit old technologies.

    3. Anonymous IV

      Re: Hmm

      Some decades ago, in the heydays of IBM mainframes, we were chatting to our IBM support rep about some new and expensive kit IBM had just announced, and he was rueing the fact that he didn't support Rolls Royce (aero-engines, not motors, I think) whose practice was to buy at least one of every bit of large kit that IBM produced, just to 'evaluate its usefulness in their environment'.

      I wonder they also would fall within the 'forward-thinking' category?

  6. Wibble

    Migration costs

    For years Microsoft have pushed their broken standards into large organisations in their utterly misguided strategy to keep other browsers out of the enterprise at any cost. This resulted in Microsoft creating the "INcompatibility" mode in IE 7, 8 and 9. This mode continued to support their broken standards and myriad browser bugs. The IE works best culture is so embedded in many large organisations that they would not allow the applications to be tested on standards-compliant browsers as "we're only paying you to develop to our standard desktop build which you cannot install other browsers".

    The unintended consequence is the massive cost of refactoring these applications. The developers have cleared off; the budgets are consumed; the cupboard is empty as far as further development is concerned.

    Well now the magpies have come home to roost. Updates are upon us. The IT management's strategy which was based largely on thick-client thinking is exposed as being completely flawed. For some reason it's been quite OK to consider User Interface development to be fluffy bollocks, certainly when compared with "real" multi-layered stack development with exciting service bus architecture.

    I told you so and you didn't listen. Ner ner ni ner ner.

    1. El Andy

      Re: Migration costs

      The *only* reason Firefox didn't gain massive support in the Enterprise sector years ago was because those at the top (and in particular Asa Dotzler) decided it was more fun to stick two fingers in their ears and ignore all of us who were literally begging for a handful of Enterprise management features to be included. An easy way of configuring settings via Group Policy and rolling out updates and they would have cleaned up the market, allowing legacy internal apps to sit on IE and all new ones to be fully standards compliant. Everyone could have moved on in the most painless way possible and IE could have happily died off completely.

      All the Firefox team succeeded in doing by ignoring this was to demonstrate quite aptly to the pointy-haired bosses that all the claims IT guys had made about how buying into web-based applications would save the company money in the long run and reduce upgrade pain were false. It's stupidly ironic that a company running only desktop applications can upgrade from XP to Windows 7 with far less pain than one whose apps were supposedly all web-based and independent of the client.

      The really sad part is seeing web developers become increasingly focused on being WebKit compatible at the expense of everything else, slowly but surely re-creating the whole horrible IE6 mess all over again, just with a different browser.

  7. GNoMe


    "People on Windows XP are still using IE 6 or 7; IE 8 and 9 won't run on Microsoft's 11-year-old operating system."

    I think you'll find the IE8 runs perfectly fine on Windows XP.

  8. Bob Vistakin

    "Windows 8 isn't ideal for many big businesses and government users."

    Bacon butties aren't the ideal snack to sell outside a Mosque.

    Erecting a statue of Kelvin McKenzie at Pier Head isn't the best idea to propose to Liverpool council.

    Suggesting a DNA test will quash the rumours once and for all around Harry Hewitt isn't the best way to get an OBE.

  9. chris lively

    A company next door to us (MS Partner at that) installed Win8 on all of their developer machines. That was last week. This week, they are going back to Win7.

    "Gemmel is positive about Windows 8 from a technology perspective, citing such features as its secure USB boot, powerful Hyper-V and more intense graphics, meaning richer displays."

    Having seen Win8, I'm not sure "more intense graphics" applies. Lack of depth and decent color does not equate to "more intense" anything. Also, "secure USB boot" is completely unnecessary in the vast majority of environments.

    We're skipping this one. Win7 is rock solid, dependable and the UI looks good.

  10. Tom 35 Silver badge

    It's the same for every Windows version.

    They had the same "look we have some suckers" announcements when Vista came out.

    1. mittfh

      Re: It's the same for every Windows version.

      Windows 4.0 (aka Win 95) - OKish, but had some serious limitations, partially addressed by service packs.

      Windows 4.1 (aka Win 98) - much better.

      Windows 4.9 (aka Win ME) - the less said about that, the better.

      Windows NT 5.0 (aka 2000) - installed in several businesses, not really targeted at users.

      Windows NT 5.1 (aka XP) - almost universally liked (although the "Fischer Price" Luna UI had criticism).

      Windows NT 6.0 (aka Vista) - had some serious limitations, partially addressed by service packs.

      Windows NT 6.1 (aka 7) - much better.

      Anyone spot a pattern there? The first release of a new UI (usually denoted by a X.0 version number) is widely panned (it wouldn't surprise me if insufficient user testing and marketing department deadlines are at least partially to blame).

      So what of 8? Internally, that's Windows NT 6.2. So what happened the last time three releases shared the same major version number? Those were 4.0 (95), 4.1 (98) and 4.9 (ME) - the latter of the trio widely panned.

      So, what of the future? Will Windows NT 7.0 (Win 9) escape the curse, or will it do a 2000 and have modest success? Lay your bets now...

      1. Anonymous IV

        Re: It's the same for every Windows version.

        Golly - surely Microsoft will immediately take note of your wise words about patterns, and cause Windows 10 to be given version number 8.3, or anything which isn't n.0. That is bound to guarantee its success!

        (This producing operating systems lark is dead easy, isn't it...!)

      2. El Andy

        Re: It's the same for every Windows version.

        Hate to break it to you, but Windows 9 will most likely be NT6.3, the 6 being something that internally has gained a lot of traction for just keeping constant since rather too much engineering effort goes into deciding what applications need the VersionLie shim applied to them because devs rarely bother to run stuff through the appcompat toolkit before shipping (the HighVersionLie test would flag these bugs).

        Still, have fun spotting imaginary patterns in release cycles and numbering. Maybe if you get bored of that you could try Scientology? I hear it's super scientific too.

      3. Goat Jam

        Spotting A Pattern

        Yes, I have spotted a pattern that goes like this;

        Every time somebody mentions Windows 8 a commentard will chime in with a (usually incorrect) list of Windows versions and point out that every second version has been crap as if nobody had ever made that observation in the past.

        Congratulations, YOU are that commentard.

  11. mittfh

    I expect...

    ...that many companies will do the usual and wait until SP1 before thinking of migrating. Especially in the case of Win 8, it will allow them to analyse the impact on the conventional desktop environment and whether users are put off by things such as the start button being converted into a start corner, and the ever-expanding Start Menu now occupying the entire screen in whatever Metro mode's now called.

    But in-house applications dependent on old IE code are likely to be a huge stumbling block - not just internal applications but external ones as well. My workplace runs a (third party) case management system designed for IE 7, that will run on 8 and 9 in "Compatibility mode" - needless to say, it won't run in FF or Chrome. The developers probably don't have the resources to completely re-write the entire system to make it compatible with newer versions / cross-browser, especially as a large part of their time is spent working on implementing features to support new government requirements and getting around limitations of the database back-end.

  12. hugh wanger

    >Windows 8 isn't ideal for many big businesses and government users.

    Nice opening gambit. Completely false and shows bias.

    I was at a seminar this week. Bloke asks the gathered delegates, hands up if you like Metro.

    One half of the audience raises hands.

    Later in the day, 2 MS blokes takes the audience through the very basics of logging into a Win8 PC.

    The same people who didn't "like" Metro, "ooooh"ed and "ahhhhH"ed with delight as the MS guys pushed the noses of his kids in a photo to log in. (Picture password)

    Underpinning my observation about Win8. Most haters have never used it, or not used it as their main machine for more than a poke of the preview. Its said, that 4 days is the time it takes to adjust from old world to Win 8.

    I suspect in a years time, this won't be a debate, nor will people whine about the UI. Loads of really nice Metro apps will be out - and we will have moved on. With MS shifting about 100 million licences in the process.

    I've been in the IT industry long enough to witness this same reticence and whining when XP and start orb came into being. Win8 has got some really nice elegant features. Its not perfect, but its more perfect than a) what Windows went before, and b) any other OS on the tablet/PC market. Simplez.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Thing is, previous UI changes have been optional at first, and were much less drastic - they were still based around mouse and keyboard. Win8 introduces (and somewhat forces) a UI that only makes sense via touch. It does this even if it detects that no touch input is available.

      As touch interfaces make no sense on the desktop, this isn't going to fly, for fairly obvious ergonomic reasons that aren't going to change. One major advantage of the desktop is large screen area, possibly multiple monitors, and these work best at arms length or further.

      Now, it may be that in a few years, "desktop" is a less common use case. But there doesn't seem to be much around to replace it in a lot of areas - primarily content creation, data entry etc. Users of such systems will still need an OS, and one that hasn't gone in the direction Win8 seems to be heading.

      1. h4rm0ny

        "Thing is, previous UI changes have been optional at first, and were much less drastic - they were still based around mouse and keyboard. Win8 introduces (and somewhat forces) a UI that only makes sense via touch. It does this even if it detects that no touch input is available."

        Then I don't believe you have actually used Win8 to any significant degree. It works just as well as Win7 with mouse and keyboard - I have no touch screen with it and have been using it comfortably for over a month now. It's faster to do most tasks and better handles my multi-monitor set up. I've yet to find anything that is more difficult in Win8 with keyboard and mouse than in Win7 and in many cases, it's quicker.

    2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      > this same reticence and whining when XP and start orb came into being

      And Kin, and Bob, and Windows for Pen, and Slate tablet, and Microsoft At Work, and MSN Network (Win95), and MSN TV, and MSN Venus, and ...

      If only they'd stop their whining and just get on with buying it.

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "The same people who didn't "like" Metro, "ooooh"ed and "ahhhhH"ed with delight as the MS guys pushed the noses of his kids in a photo to log in. (Picture password)"

      That's odd, since login by clicking/tapping on a photo was in XP. One wonders just what the audience had been given for lunch. But anyway...

      If it had been a member of the audience trying to log in rather than a trained MS demonstrator, they'd still be at the opening screen wondering how to make it do anything more interesting than bob up and down when you click on it.

      The Win8 interface is the most undiscoverable interface I've ever seen. It seems to pride itself on having eliminated every visual clue. Visual cues have been a mainstay of GUI design since the Xerox days. They are the reason why GUIs don't normally need user manuals. In terms of existing wisdom, then, the Win8 UI is deliberately designed to be hard to learn.

      And all so that Steve Balmer can force his desktop users to learn his phone UI, thereby leveraging his desktop monopoly into another market.

      1. El Andy

        Picture paswords

        "That's odd, since login by clicking/tapping on a photo was in XP. One wonders just what the audience had been given for lunch. But anyway..."

        XP let you associate a picture with your login, but still requires a traditional password (unless you have something like a fingerprint reader). Windows 8 picture passwords are entirely different, it shows you a photo and you make a guesture based on that photograph and if you get it right, you are logged in. It sort of sounds weird, but works remarkably well on touch based devices, offering a higher level of security than a simple pin number approach.

      2. Goat Jam

        The Win8 interface is the most undiscoverable interface I've ever seen.

        Well, you obviously haven't tried Gnome 3 then . . .

      3. h4rm0ny

        "If it had been a member of the audience trying to log in rather than a trained MS demonstrator, they'd still be at the opening screen wondering how to make it do anything more interesting than bob up and down when you click on it."

        If you click on the screen a box appears labelled password. What sort of criticism is this?

    4. TraceyC

      User comfort with the UI is not the only factor in whether an OS is ideal for enterprise customers

      There are, of course, many other factors for an enterprise grade operation to consider when evaluating any OS upgrade than if users like the way it looks. Your comments show a lack of knowledge about those factors, most of which are a lot more important than "Do the users say ooo when they look at it". These factors include the compatibility of the OS with existing standardised hardware, existing user applications, existing control mechanisms (like application control, inventory control etc), existing security tools... the list goes on. Those factors are weighed against what benefits the new OS would bring.

      For more insight, take a read:

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most likely with the utility company they have a budget that has to be spent, and upgrading equipment would be a logical choice. I would also gamble that they already use some type of touch interface, as many companies do, and the software used sits on top of an OS that no user sees.

    For example, we have several older pieces of equipment that runs Windows CE. On powerup, the equipment loads the OS and then starts it's own control software that takes up the screen. It's all touchscreen with USB support for logging and plugging in USB devices such as keyboards and mice. If you didn't see windows CE at bootup, you would never know it was running a Windows OS.

    This is nothing new, many companies have equipment with touch screen GUI interface running equipment.

    I think MicroSoft will strive in this type of environment. The problem is not many companies have the extra money in this economy to upgrade equipment to the latest and greatest.

    PS, I know it's still new, but I haven't seen any industrial equipment being offered running an Android OS, which is something I would have thought to see by now based on popularity.

    1. mangobrain

      Industrial equipment on Android

      You probably won't, since it would make more sense to use Linux with a more standard userland, such as an X server for graphics. I wouldn't be surprised if such stuff already exists - UNIX (which Linux intentionally apes) has been around since the seventies, and X since 1984, with X11 in '87, according to Wikipedia. I've never understood why people put full installs of Windows on what are, effectively, embedded devices.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Industrial equipment on Android

        Equipment with Unix/Linux based OS DO exist, but it's not very popular. The only reason I can think of is due to larger companies not offering it. Most will either write their own software to perform the task or pick an OS that's popular, aka Windows CE at the time. I've seen equipment running Linux, and it looks good. It's actually cheap compared to others in the same class, but the companies are ones that no one has heard of.

        I did notice that they were pushing the geeky Linux phrases and all the customization that can be done, giving demos and what not. But in the end, and here is the thing, the people they are selling the equipment to care nothing about rooting this, what the GUI is running on, etc.... They want it simple, they want it to drop in and work, without having to learn background operations.

        I'm not knocking it, I can just understand where someone would be apt to purchase something based on the comfort level of it simply working, not what it can do under the hood with tweaks.

        1. Synja

          Re: Industrial equipment on Android

          One of the reasons for this is that most Linux based OSs do not have "legitimate" security evaluations and cannot inherently provide SLAs. This is not to say in any way that Gentoo (for example) is any less secure than RHEL or SEL, but that "official" evaluations have not been done. This is mostly a side effect of cost and time. EAL evaluations can take two years and cost up to half a million dollars. If you are going to be producing and supporting a large product, you usually want the support of a major OEM behind it. The cost of an "enterprise" Linux (I know, CentOS is free) can be just as significant as Windows.

          In other cases, the decision to use Windows for an embedded system is simply ease of development (big picture, not just code); if you run a Windows shop, and primarily develop for Windows, developing on Linux could actually cost you more in the short term if you need to train/hire developers or purchase different hardware/virtualization licenses.

        2. mangobrain

          Re: Industrial equipment on Android

          Depending on what sort of equipment we're talking about here, I completely understand the desire to have something which just works. I don't have any personal experience with Windows CE, but with the number of ATMs, electronic billboards, departure boards etc. I've seen either sat at a desktop, or adorned by a conspicuous error pop-up with obvious Windows GUI stylings, I'm not sure I'd class Windows as something which just works. IMHO, a UNIX is a better choice if you want a box which just does one thing (and does it well), because it's so much easier to make it boot directly into the necessary state, and to remove extraneous software. I can only speculate that the reason this isn't often done in practice is simply due to the huge pool of developer "talent" available surrounding Microsoft technologies.

  14. TIB


    I wonder just how much testing they've done with real users and what their risk assessment looks like?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Good for who?

    First of all one has to wonder who will actually profit from this move. The company user for using a new product, or the company for using a product which could make them usable for promotional activities?

    Quite frankly I think the only businesses which would consider Win8 on the desktop are those who haven't bothered to look into the whole administrative part yet. Because even from an admin pov the start screen has fail written all over it.

    Where the start menu was a fully modular environment the start screen is turned into a single file entity which contains the used tiles, the start screen settings, etc. The fail part should be obvious: if a user gets a new application or one is removed this will also reset his/her entire start screen to the default settings. Because the only way to achieve this is by publishing an entire new start screen.

    In the old situation one could easily push a single link to a global group which would result in that link becoming visible to all users.

    Guess this behaviour should also be limited to the desktop (which kept the modular behaviour).

    But I see another fail wrt windows 8, especially for business use.

  16. Robert E A Harvey


    I'm very puzzled by this idea of expenditure on re-training. If $MEGACORP spent ten times as much as it spent training me on XP & Office it would cost them precisely nothing.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      OK Mr Downvoter

      Either you have concrete knowledge that $MEGACORP spent money training me in XP and Office, or certain proof that I am not at all puzzled.

      Do let us know.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    Was at a Microsoft Partner Briefing this week. One of the presenters said The aim was to get customers to Windows7, not necessarily Windows8.

    They want to get all the customers till using XP (or older) to move to 7. Even gave us a list of tools that will help with some of the legacy problems (such as IE6)

    Posting anonymously I think you know why.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows is shit

    Get a MAC or Linux, then GTFO.

  19. A J Stiles

    Migration can go more than one way

    The thing about migration is, once you know there is no painless upgrade path, all bets are off anyway.

    If a web app needs to be rewritten to make it work with IE10, then it's precious little extra effort to rewrite it to work with Firefox. And when the question "What could we have done all those years ago to avoid this happening today?" comes up, as it's bound to; and the answer comes back, "Insist to have a copy of the Source Code so we can make changes in future and aren't dependent upon the original programmer who wrote it", maybe someone will take notice this time.

    Microsoft are gambling a lot on this -- and vendors of alternatives to Microsoft products are in a position to win.

    1. Epobirs

      Re: Migration can go more than one way

      A lot of people have forgotten or never knew how the IE6 problem occurred. The W3C was moving at a glacial pace and everybody in the browser business had a ton of stuff they wanted to do with no semblance of a standard to follow. They could wait for years or just do it and hope their version was the winner.

      So Microsoft went ahead and did a number of critical items that made things doable in the browser that had previously been very hard. Stuff we all take granted now and the eventually standard was a fair bit different. But it was too late. A huge amount of investment had been made in apps that worked in IE5 and IE6.

      Even Microsoft wants IE6 to die. They've done a big push to get in alignment with the HTML standards, especially HTML 5. They have to move slowly because of the nature of their customer base, while Chrome can have a new release every week without putting anyone out of business.

      It's a weird situation when your most difficult competitor is your past self but that is what Microsoft is up against. If not for IE6 the number of migrations from XP to 7 would be far higher. There are workarounds but a lot of companies just can't be bothered. I'm kind of surprised Microsoft hasn't released a Win7 app just for running IE6-only sites that is simpler than a virtualization solution.

  20. Jean-Luc Silver badge

    What do you think about early adoption?

    Just wondering. Aside from Win8's UI or other (de)merits.

    Clearly, as others have pointed out, the IT departments are hmmm, adventurous. That would be my opinion. Let others lead the way, I'll follow, no need to hurry.

    However, let's say your company uses a vendor's flagship, high-visibility, product. Do you think there is a case for being an early adopter IF you get some kind of agreement that you are a reference customer and will receive additional, contractually-agreed upon, support to aid in the migration?

    I.e. you are at more risk from doing an early migration but can it be successfully mitigated by vendor support? Just on the basis that, once you are part of the herd, vendor support will be... expensive at best, useless at worst. This relies at least on the expectation that the product is stable and that your challenges will mostly be in migrating/implementing it.

    No opinion here, just curious on what others @ Reg have experienced.

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