Windows 8: Some VARs Aren't Selling It, They're Replacing It

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Solution providers also were asked what it would take for Windows 8 to be a good fit for customers and 84 percent chose bringing back the Start button. Getting more applications tested and proved to work on Windows 8 was selected by 53 percent of respondents.

Stratos Management Systems, a Westlake, Texas-based solution provider, recently had some customers running older versions of Windows (including Windows XP, which Microsoft won't support as of April next year) bypass Windows 7 in favor of Windows 8. Then, some of those customers ran into problems and wanted to roll back to Windows 7.

"We sell [a customer] 300 desktops or notebooks or whatever and they want to load on Windows 8 because they want to try to deploy it. Then they say, 'We want to roll back to [Windows] 7.' I'll go in and bill them if they want to pay us to do it," said John DeRocker, senior vice president of worldwide channels at Stratos. "They run into compatibility issues with applications and they go back to Windows 7 because they know it's hardcore rock-solid."

In such cases, the customer has determined that it costs less to pay a solution provider to roll back Windows 8 to Windows 7 than to incur training costs and possible application integration snags that might occur with Windows 8, DeRocker said.

"The benefits customers think they're going to get aren't there. It's cool, but it's not going to give them what they thought. They don't have time for the training," DeRocker said. "Some customers want to slate it for a test for maybe next year. But this year? No."

Microsoft declined an interview request for this story but in an email statement, a spokesperson noted that more than two-thirds of businesses have completed deployment of Windows 7 and the company is encouraging companies to continue any current Windows 7 migrations but also pursue hybrid deployments of Windows 7 and Windows 8 for environments that involve mobile devices.

"Because of the compatibility between Windows 7 and Windows 8, businesses should consider deploying Windows 8 through the expanding array of tablets and touch devices available, along with dynamic line-of-business apps that continue to come to market. With Windows 7 and Windows 8, you get a great management experience and the ability to integrate both to meet your business needs," the spokesperson said.

Bill Hair, president of My Computer Guy in Rockwall, Texas, said the lack of the customary Windows Start button has been a major problem for Windows 8. "We're starting to do more Windows 8 business now, but to be honest the only reason we're doing it is because of the StartMenu8 add-on [from iObit] that we're installing for clients," he said. "Before that, we've had several clients where we had to uninstall Windows 8 because they couldn't find the Start button or menu and couldn't figure out how to close apps. So we downgraded them to Windows 7. The StartMenu8 is a free download and it's been a lifesaver. Microsoft would have sold 50 times more copies of Windows 8 if they had just put the Start menu back in."

Microsoft said last week it will address concerns about the OS' missing Start button in the forthcoming Windows 8.1 update, which adds a Start "tip" that will appear in the form of a Windows logo any time users mouse over the lower left corner of their screens. That and other new features are expected to debut in a preview version of Windows 8.1 June 26.

NEXT: CIOs Cite Migration Obstacles

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