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This year's International Consumer Electronics Show was poised to be Windows 8's big coming out party. The operating system has been on the market for more than three months now, and CES 2013 represented for many the first opportunity to get a hands-on look at Microsoft's latest and greatest.
Vendors ranging from Intel to Samsung had booths on the show floor that were overflowing with new tablets and convertible PCs running the software. Attendees' reactions to these new devices were mixed. Some commended the new tiled and touch-optimized interface, whereas others felt it required too steep a learning curve to be embraced back at the office.
"I run an IT department for an international company, and I will not be installing [Windows 8]," said Thomas Lisciandra, an IT manager at Tate Snyder Kimsey, an architectural practice based in Henderson, Nev. "The interface just doesn't seem to work well in a work environment, in my opinion. I just think it's taking away speed of the employees being able to do their jobs."
[Related: CES 2013: 10 Sleek Devices Running Windows 8]
Lisciandra also noted that the Windows 8 experience really demands a touchscreen PC, something end users in his organization haven't yet adopted. To take full advantage of the new Windows 8 tiled UI, his team would not only need to upgrade end users' software, but their hardware as well.
"If the touchscreens were already out in the workplace, that might be a different story," he told CRN. "But I think [Microsoft] kind of rushed the project. I think [Windows 8] will have its day, but I don't think it's yet."
Joseph Gonzalez, associate buyer of electronics, computers, and video game systems at Overstock.com, agreed that the totally revamped UI in Windows 8 may hurt the software's adoption, particularly among enterprise users still leveraging traditional notebook PCs.
"I hate to say this, but the [Windows 8] operating system really does look like a robot threw up on it," Gonzalez said. "People still like to use their PC computers to do PC work."
Microsoft erred in making Windows 8 a one-size-fits-all solution for both PCs and tablets, Gonzalez continued. Unlike Apple, which has two distinct operating systems for its iPad and its Macs, Microsoft is trying to make Windows 8 work across both mobile devices and PCs, a strategy that isn't going to resonate well with users who like to use a PC for certain tasks and a tablet for others.
"When you use a Windows 8 computer, you do feel like you're messing around on a tablet, and the multitasking isn't as good either," Gonzalez said.