Windows 8 is here! Now what?

As someone that’s worked in IT for the better part of 14 years, I’ve seen my fair share of product launches. When it comes to operating systems, it’s always a cyclical engine; big flurry of attention at launch followed by mixed reaction to the product.

The transition from Windows XP to Windows Vista was an unmitigated disaster by most accounts. The move to Windows 7 was by and large a huge success. Now with Windows 8, Microsoft has once again made a dramatic change in the way the OS looks and behaves. I’ve read and heard mixed feelings on the change and to be perfectly fair, I have yet to actually get my hands on Windows 8 so I’m not going to pass judgment on it yet. That said I’m skeptical about the Metro interface on a standard PC or laptop without touch capabilities. Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong.

But what does it mean for business?  If past experience repeats itself, it means hurry up and wait; especially for large organizations. Most enterprise customers won’t jump onto a new OS at the onset. The general rule of thumb is to wait for the first Service Pack or until every application in your enterprise is supported by the new OS.

The early adopters for Windows 8 will be consumers – as everything on the retail shelf will quickly switch to Windows 8 – and smaller-sized businesses that are less concerned about OS updates and likely run in an unmanaged environment.

As a software company, we’re always focused on ensuring compatibility between our software and new revisions to an OS. Windows 8 is no exception and introduces something relatively new and a fundamental change to the way things work – including our software.

Historically, the pre-boot environment for Windows-based devices has been BIOS. This is where we enable things like pre-boot authentication and that added layer of security that’s harder for the bad guys to tamper with.

With Windows 8 however, there’s been a shift to UEFI as the pre-boot environment of choice (but there still remains a BIOS Compatibility Mode). This means, we’re making changes for the future version of SecureDoc to ensure compatibility. Ensuring support for the majority of UEFI environments from every vendor takes time and it’s something we will address. But as we continue to test and validate systems, there will be a small gap.

Thankfully, the next version of SecureDoc (coming later this month) will offer native UEFI support or BIOS-Compatibility Mode support to ensure that customers who are ready can upgrade to Windows 8 at their discretion.

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