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The Windows 8 "Metro" and touch-optimized interface could make Microsoft's newest and much-ballyhooed OS a bust among enterprise users, some Microsoft partners predict.
According to some solution providers, the new software departs too drastically from past Windows releases, a factor that could deter many enterprise users from adoption. Development for the Windows 8 "Metro" UI was spearheaded by Steven Sinofsky, a 22-year Microsoft vet and head of the Windows division, whose sudden departure from the company was announced Tuesday.
Allan Walters, senior vice president at Saratoga Technologies, a Johnson City, Tenn.-based solution provider and Microsoft partner, believes that the lack of Microsoft's signature Start Menu button in the new OS could make its reception among business users more lukewarm than Microsoft had anticipated.
"Windows 8 would and could have been and even can be the best software Microsoft has ever put out -- if they included a Start button on the desktop [mode]," Walters told CRN.
Windows 8 has two distinct usage models: one that runs the new "Metro" tiled interface and is optimized for touch, and one that allows users to revert back to a desktop mode similar to the interface native to Windows 7 and prior Windows releases. But, even this more traditional desktop mode lacks a Start button, a flagship Windows feature since its debut with Windows 95.
Walters suggested that Microsoft may have nixed the iconic button to boost adoption of the new "Metro" UI, and to prevent users from spending all their time in desktop mode. "I think they [Microsoft] thought 'if we don't force people to use Metro, they won't use Metro,'" Walters said.
"People want choice," he continued. "I think it's going to kill Windows 8 in the enterprise."
To fill this gap, Microsoft hardware vendors are building apps that mimic the traditional Start button experience, Walters noted. Samsung, for instance, recently launched its Quick Starter feature, which adds a toolbar and start button to the Windows 8 interface.
Samsung told CRN it decided to launch the app, which is available by free download on all Samsung's Windows 8-based PCs, because it arms users with that more traditional Windows choice.
"As Samsung is committed to giving our customers choices, we want to offer them the opportunity to use a familiar interface if that's where they're more comfortable, or use the new user interface if they prefer," a Samsung spokesperson told CRN. The number of downloads for the new Quick Starter app is not yet being disclosed, the spokesperson said.