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"I think [removing the Start button] is going to be a brick wall, not even a roadblock," Copeland told CRN. "And, again, this is my opinion, but I believe that Microsoft is so worried about becoming hip and cool that they have forgotten the average Windows user is doing their job, and they're doing Word, and they're doing Excel ... they don't need tiles and they don't need to try to figure out where the new folders are and they don't want to have a learning curve. They just want to go to work."
What's more, some partners feel the success of Windows 8 is too closely tethered to the success of new touch-enabled convertible PCs and Ultrabooks, the super-thin notebook form factor Intel ushered in in 2011. To take full advantage of the software, touch is a must-have, which means some enterprises will want to refresh their hardware -- assuming they don't already have touch-enabled devices in-house -- before even considering a move to Windows 8.
"Windows 8 and Ultrabooks have to go hand in hand," said Joseph Awe, president of Exton, Pa.-based solution provider and Microsoft partner TechBldrs. "Without Ultrabooks and their [touch] technology, Windows 8 is dead in the water."
For this reason and others, most analysts project it will take several years for the enterprise to embrace Windows 8. Gartner projected in October that 90 percent of businesses will bypass broad-scale adoption of the software until at least 2014.
But Microsoft remains confident that its new OS will succeed in the enterprise space. The company did not make an executive available for an interview but in an email, a spokesperson told CRN it worked closely with "hundreds of business customers" to discuss its Windows 8 design plans before going to market with the product.
"From large to small businesses, customers said that they are planning to adopt Windows 8 for many different reasons -- some are eager to deploy devices that give their employees the convenience of a tablet with the productivity of a PC," the Microsoft spokesperson said.
While some Microsoft partners doubt Windows 8 will ever take off in the enterprise, others have faith it will succeed. According to Douglas Grosfield, president and CEO of Xylotek Solutions, an Ontario-based Microsoft partner, Windows 8 will at least be welcomed by IT teams grappling with the bring-your-own-device trend, since devices running the software will integrate more easily into existing Windows-based IT infrastructures than competing devices like Apple's iPad or Android-based tablets.
"There's continuity with the systems you are running in your office," Grosfield told CRN. "You've got the same tools, the same look and feel. That has to have a positive impact on your productivity."
Spencer Ferguson, president and CEO of Wasatch I.T., a Microsoft partner and Salt Lake City-based solution provider, believes Windows 8's revamped design was a necessary move for Microsoft to appeal to consumers, while prepping its enterprise users for the future of Windows. Like Grosfield, he also believes Windows 8 could have a leg up in the enterprise because of its compatibility with legacy Windows apps and infrastructures.
"We'll see a bit of an uptick based on refreshes over the next 12 to18 months. I believe in Windows 8," Ferguson said.