Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Window 8: Jump or Wait? Microsoft's New Operating System Is Touch and Go

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Window 8: Jump or Wait? Microsoft's New Operating System Is Touch and Go

Article excerpt

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

* Windows 8 features a touchscreen-enabled user interface designed to provide a uniform experience on desktop computers, laptops, Ultrabooks, tablets, and smartphones. Microsoft's goal is that users who learn Windows 8 on one platform will know how to use the operating system on all their computing devices.

* Windows 8 accommodates both touchscreen functionality and control by a keyboard and mouse.

* Windows 8 users can toggle between two Start screens-a classic desktop and a new "Modern UI" characterized by blocks of colorful tiles designed to optimize touchscreen interaction.

* Applications that work on Windows 7 should continue to work on Windows 8.

* The advantages of Windows 8 include faster boot-up times, longer battery life, at least one significant security upgrade, and cloud-based live syncing, which means that a change made on one of a user's Windows 8 devices automatically updates on all of them.

* The drawbacks of Windows 8 include the amount of time required to fine-tune the settings in the upgrade installation, the

learning curve associated with a new menu structure and Start screen, and the uncertainty of switching to a new and largely unproven user interface.

* CPAs considering whether to upgrade or switch to Windows 8 should consider several factors, including which version of Windows they currently use and how mobile devices and cloud computing fit into their technology-utilization strategy.

* CPAs, especially those running Windows 7, might be well-advised to take a wait-and-see approach with Windows 8, at least until the system has been in use long enough for its performance to be thoroughly assessed. CPAs should see how Windows 8 fares on all platforms--from desktop computers to the new Windows Phone 8.

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[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

With the scheduled Oct. 26 release of Windows 8, Microsoft unveiled a new look and new direction for the operating system that runs 92% of desktop computers worldwide. But Windows 8 isn't about desktop dominance. It's about Microsoft seeking to gain a foothold in the mobile market, where Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems rule.

Why should CPAs care about Microsoft's mobile motives? Because understanding the company's strategy illuminates the path CPAs and their organizations should follow in determining whether to switch to Windows 8.

Windows 8 features a tile-based, touchscreen-optimized interface that Microsoft has designed to be used across the board on desktop computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and a slew of new Ultrabooks. Windows 8 also uses the cloud to synchronize devices so that an update on a user's PC also will show up on the user's tablet and smartphone, provided they are running on the latest Windows version.

This connectivity between computers and mobile devices means that in addition to deciding whether to upgrade from Windows 7, Vista, or XP to Windows 8, CPAs should also weigh the pros and cons of switching to the newest Windows OS on their mobile devices--or possibly even consolidating from multiple devices to a Windows 8-powered Ultrabook (see sidebar, "The Mobile Effect").

This article offers a quick tour of Windows 8, examines its most notable new features, and offers advice on whether to embrace, eschew, or take a wait-and-see approach with the new operating system.

A QUICK TOUR OF WINDOWS 8

Windows 8 features a new menu structure and a Start screen with a colorful array of tiles designed to optimize the touchscreen experience on mobile devices. Much has been made of the radically different user interface, but users of Windows 8 on desktop and laptop computers are not limited to only the tile-based screen. In a clever move, Windows 8 allows users to toggle between a classic desktop Start screen and the newer Start screen (see Exhibit 1). …

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