Should Your Business Upgrade to Windows 8.1?

While businesses are still groaning about the lack of business-friendliness in Microsoft’s Windows 8, the company is pushing out an updated version of the operating system. Windows 8.1 features the return of the Start button, an option to boot in desktop mode, and several other features that may make the idea of upgrading appealing to business users.

But while Windows’ tile-oriented design is inevitable for anyone who plans to use Microsoft-based devices in the future, businesses still running Windows 7 may have reason to continue to wait. Windows 8.1 is still geared primarily toward touchscreens, frustrating those who use installed software rather than apps.

In other words, business users.

What’s New?

The good news is, users can now boot in desktop mode. The bad news is, desktop mode is still not quite what it was. Sure, there’s a Start button, but you won’t see your programs and files, as Windows 7 allowed. In fact, the Start button is just a more noticeable version of the Start option a Windows 8 user has by hovering over the bottom left corner of the screen. Click on it and you’ll be taken back to your tiles, where you’ll have to search if you need to find the control panel, an app you haven’t pinned to the taskbar, or any of the other dozen or so things a business professional needs.

For businesses interested in Cloud-based file storage, Windows 8.1 does integrate more fully with SkyDrive. This connection means files can be accessed directly through an app, similar to the way Windows Phones connect. This capability may not be useful for the many businesses that already have a file storage system in place.

Should You Upgrade?

For those businesses currently running Windows 8, though, upgrading is a no-brainer, especially since the update is free. In these early days of the release, businesses will find Microsoft’s servers are slow. In these early days, rather than upgrading businesses should probably spend time reviewing the instructions available here to ensure they’re prepared.

What is Windows Blue?

Hint: It’s not a paint color.  There are a lot of rumors swirling about what Windows Blue is.  Thus far, we can conclude that it’s not a service pack.  Windows Blue will be closer to what Mountain Lion is to Apple’s OS X.  We know this because since XP service pack 2, Microsoft has decided that any update that introduces new features is not a service pack.  As of right now, no one really knows what it is.

What can you expect?

There’s not much that’s official yet.  However, we can speculate on a few things.  One is that it’ll allow Windows to run on tablets that are smaller than 10.1 inches diagonally, Windows 8’s current limitation.  There should new built-in apps.  One that was shown off was a new video editing app called Movie Moments.   Expect new charms, such as one that will let you seamlessly switch between audio and video.

What not to expect.

It probably won’t replace Windows Phone 8 since Microsoft has decided to take the opposite path as Apple.  Apple currently uses the same operating system for its tablets and phones.  It probably won’t replace Windows RT.  RT runs on low power processors in order to increase battery life.  Blue would ruin that aspect.

The rumor mill is saying that Windows Blue will come out sometime this year.  We’ll be keeping an eye out.