Whether it's because they like the stability of Windows 7, their existing investment in earlier third-party applications, dislike of Microsoft's latest operating system, or another reason altogether, some IT professionals don't want to run the Windows 8 OS that comes preloaded on their companies' new desktop PCs. Or perhaps they plan to run Windows 8 -- but not yet.
I've found that about 10 percent of new desktops are still available with Windows 7. Market leading PC vendors' websites show about six to 10 of their 40 to 60 offerings ship with Windows 7 preinstalled. This percentage will only drop as we move forward. I expect by the end of March only specialty orders will allow for Windows 7 preinstalled.
Right out of the box, I have Windows 8: How do I get back to Windows 7 if I'm not ready and willing to make that commitment?
Microsoft's Replacement Department, the starting point in this licensing quest, is prepared to handle this issue. After providing the call center with your Windows 8 product key and part number, the company will ship out Windows 7 Media and you'll be charged $30 for the media and shipping. In return, you'll get a boxed retail copy of Windows 7 Pro with a license key. The associated computer will then have a shipping Windows 8 license for later use, and a current and fully-licensed Windows 7 Pro desktop -- the best of both worlds.
For, after all, eventually your company will most likely upgrade to Windows 8. By planning ahead, you can eliminate some obvious training issues that occur due to the great differences between versions 7 and 8.
When you finally do begin rolling out Windows 8 to your company's users, be prepared to deal with the Start button. Or, to be more accurate, the lack of one.
For $5 per desktop, you can buy Start8, third-party software by StarDock, that adds this button back to the Win8 desktop. It's a cheap way to deal with the first issue you'll probably find related to Windows 8 training.
After all, training is the key to successful software adoption. Any technology must have the confidence of the users. If your user base does not believe in its ability to use the tools at hand, the software will fail, not due to bad code or poor installation, but for lack of use. Employees will fall back on older and what's perceived as "more reliable" technology to complete their tasks. At the end of the day, they must get their jobs done, regardless of current IT initiatives.
IT must do their job as well. Throwing users to the interface sharks is not a good path to building confidence in your organization's support team. Empowering users with new tools is part of the path to success for the business world. The real work for the IT sector is simple: Teach your user base how to be more efficient with the new tools. In the end, they will need less support if you provide them with advance training in new software or operating systems.
— Michael Starnes is CEO of Orlando-based Starnes Consulting.