Questions of touch, form factor and interface support
Not all parts of Windows 8 will deliver big benefits. There will be big challenges for developers in how to incorporate the touch interface into their applications. Existing touch applications are only enabled for two finger touch as that is all Microsoft previously supported. This was perfectly fine for tapping an icon or pinching a picture or ebook to enlarge or reduce.
With Windows 8, it is about multi-point touch which is much more complex. The ability to use two hands on the screen or carry out complex touch operations requires both software and hardware support. Therefore multi-point touch support is going to be limited for some time. Brand new hardware, available around Christmas 2012 should be multi-point enabled but the vast majority of business desktops and devices will not be refreshed for some time which means developers need to write touch applications working to multiple standards.
Developers will also need to decide what is the target platform for the application – desktop/laptop, phone or tablet. Screen size, resizing, moving from portrait to horizontal – these all pose challenges for application design. In fairness, these are not new challenges but too many applications fail to support these features properly.
There is also a question over what interface to support. Will it be the classic desktop which still exists underneath Windows 8? Will it be the new tiled interface that is now deployed from server to mobile phone? A lot will depend on the target audience and the type of devices that the development team believe users will want to use. However, Microsoft is committed to driving Windows RT into the market so underestimating user demand could leave application design out in the cold.
Are the three big benefits above likely to drive adoption of Windows 8 inside the enterprise? Yes, I believe that they are. Those enterprises that want to move to a more mobile application space can now do so by leveraging the capabilities inside the operating system. For the first time in 25 years, changing your version of Windows really is likely to have a positive impact on the business