Analysts and Microsoft business have questioned whether Windows 8 could persuade African enterprises to switch over quickly or completely. Some companies have argued that the switch-over could be slow and patchy, and most initial adaptation of the new OS could be in organisations with large mobile work forces at first.
Mark Walker, Middle East, Africa and Turkey director at IDC, said that it is unlikely that enterprises who have tested Windows 8 would adapt it immediately. It would however be able to bump PC sales in the region. “The ecosystem is more complicated than it was when companies were migrating to Windows XP or Windows 7. There is a lot of push-back from the business people, a lot of confusion about the impact on the architecture. The decision to migrate is not a straightforward discussion,” Walker said. “From a technology point of view, Windows 8 is an impressive platform. But the on-ramp will be slower.”
Paul Conradie, MD of southern and eastern African distribution group Comztek, says that the type and nature of business would greatly determine the speed at which Windows 8 gets adopted. Companies who have large mobile workforces might be faster to adopt it, as their “security and infrastructure has been set up for Windows 7, so moving to Windows 8 is not a big leap.” It will certainly be different from country to country as well, depending on the inherent infrastructure within the country. Kenya for example would adopt faster than Zambia where costs are still high and speeds low.
Bradley Bunch, chief innovation officer at Dimension Data, said that “Windows 8 represents an interesting bridge from enterprise to consumer devices. Google and Apple have been winning the race because Microsoft has been slow to respond to the changes in how consumers use technology. Consumerisation is affecting companies’ operational costs because the number of devices and platforms [to be managed] has increased. Offering mobile devices and PCs on the same platform is a good strategy, but is it too late?”
Dimension Data (DD) is involved in a large practice of migrating from Windows XP and Vista towards Windows 7. Many of its biggest customers still operate on XP. Even though DD expects Windows 7 to be the preferred OS, 8 would be highly represented via tablets and smartphones.
Traci Maynard, GM of the software division at Tarsus Technologies, is one user who is very excited about switching to Windows 8, as it will introduce key enhancements to the BitLocker and AppLocker features, and other long-awaited security features.
The fastest area of growth for Windows 8 is still expected to be in the mobile arena, as South African mobile operator, MTN, will be in collaboration with Microsoft to bring Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 devices to its customers in South Africa in November. Oran Dror, senior director, operator channels Microsoft Middle East and Africa, said “Microsoft is delighted to collaborate with MTN to make Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 available in Africa. With Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, MTN customers will have a fast and fluid experience that comes to life with exciting hardware and applications and interoperability with the cloud”