Microsoft's introduction of Windows 8, a radical rethinking of the world's dominant computer operating system, may not be a do-or-die play. But it's still a roll of the dice that will dramatically affect the company's future leadership in the information technology industry. The outcome may well hinge on the reception of Windows 8 from its crucial business customers, and the early returns are encouraging.
Small business have already endorsed the new OS and are ready to roll out the welcome mat, a new study shows.
A third of U.S. small businesses are considering upgrading to Windows 8, according to a survey of 175 of small businesses conducted by the research division of iYogi, a provider of tech support services. That includes nearly a third (27 percent) of the small businesses that are using Windows 8's immediate predecessor, Windows 7. Currently, 67 percent of all small businesses use Windows 7.
"Small businesses may be the key to Microsoft’s winning strategy with Windows 8, as their size allows for agility and experimentation, unlike larger enterprises," said Vishal Dhar, iYogi co-founder and president of marketing. "The need is for speed, seamless integration and connectivity on the go, as small businesses are often mobile, multi-location and dependent on multiple, interconnected devices. Windows 8 promises to offer all that to users and much more."
The survey has good news not only for Microsoft's Windows team, but also for the folks at the software giant's Office franchise. The iYogi study found that 28 percent of small businesses considering an upgrade to Windows 8 were also considering upgrading to MS Office 2013 as well.
One of the key virtues of the new OS in its many permutations is that it provides a uniform user experience across the device spectrum, from smartphones and tablets to laptops and desktops. This should help Microsoft take advantage of the growing move to mobile in the business world.
Already, more than half (56 percent) of small businesses have made tablets an integral tool at the office, the study found. New Windows 8 tablets are likely to be a major beneficiary of the trend. And it will come at the expense of Apple's iPad and the Android tablet ecosystem.
More than a third (38 percent) of small businesses currently using iPads are considering migrating to Windows 8 tablets, while nearly half (45 percent) of Android-based tablet users are considering making the switch, the survey found.
And of those who have yet to test the tablet waters, 29 percent are considering only Windows 8 tablets, the survey found.