Customers looking for full Windows experience, not tablet version
Microsoft could struggle to sell Windows RT into enterprises, if the opinions on a recent customer panel are anything to go by.
The event, held by Microsoft to promote Windows 8's suitability for enterprises, featured a number of customers on its First Wave early adoption program. While the customers - BT, Poste Italiane and the Dutch Public Prosecution Service - were enthusiastic about Windows 8, Windows RT was not similarly welcomed.
Windows RT is a version of the new operating system that is designed to run on ARM devices, such as Microsoft's Surface tablet. It will run apps from Microsoft's Windows store, such as Office, but will not natively run applications that currently run on Windows 7, unlike Windows 8 does.
The customers at Microsoft's event suggested that it is integration with their existing Windows infrastructure that is one of the main attractions with Windows 8 devices. BT's Peter Scott said his company is running a combination of Windows XP and 7 and was looking for something to upgrade a lot of its mobile fleet to.
"We ran sessions called Hothouses, where we looked at what sort of devices and operating systems we could offer our engineers" Scott said at the event. "We had hundreds of workers come along and we put loads of devices in front of them - iPads, Android tablets, slates, laptops that convert into tablets - and they decided because of all the different things they wanted the device for Windows would be the best option."
Vincent Nicola Santacroce of Poste Italiane and Edwin Mac Gillavry of the Dutch Public Prosecution Service agreed that Windows 8 would be more suitable for their enterprises than Windows RT.
"We're not planning on using [RT]," said Mac Gillavry. "We want the full security possibilities [of Windows 8] and we want to have the full PC experience in mobile. It sounds like a good option for some but for us security is paramount, so we will be sticking to the high-end machines."
"I don't think we'll see BT buying many RT devices," added Scott, "although we will see them in the bring your own device space."
Santacroce said Poste Italiane is still investigating whether it makes sense to introduce Windows RT to the enterprise. "We like the concept of Windows 8 and a tablet that looks like a PC; we don't want to move to something that looks like an iPad."
However, Ian Simpson, director of systems consulting at Quest Software, told CBR that Windows RT may be welcomed into some enterprises, certainly ahead of iOS or Android devices, simply because it is a Microsoft product.
"Windows RT is interesting an awful lot of [enterprises]," he told CBR. "Whereas they will not allow iPads in because they cannot be secured without third-party software, Windows RT is Microsoft and people are more willing to embrace it. I think when Pro comes out as well it will cause a surge of interest in the tablets; they will be seen as viable and enterprise-ready, because they are Microsoft."