Indian upgrade crisis: Organizations apprehensive about making the big switch from Windows 7 to 8

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While most parts of the world are awaiting Microsoft’s next desktop operating system, back here in India, even switching to Windows 8 comes with a raft of financial and technical challenges.

The software giant is cajoling various Indian firms to switch to its latest operating system, but despite the discounts and additional perks it brings to the table, firms aren’t being lured into the deal.

Having people transition from the recently upgraded Windows 7 to Windows 8 will require ample preparation, as the new operating system gives more emphasis on the touch interface.

“One has to assess the viability of such a move for it involves investments, both in terms of time and costs. More critical is what value it brings to the business,” said Harish Shetty, Senior Executive Vice-President of Information Technology (IT), HDFC Bank Ltd.

“Honestly it makes no business sense for us to make the switch now”, said another person who works at one of the world’s top five retailers.

Unlike Windows 7, which works pretty much like Windows XP, an operating system that is powering most of the government offices in India, Windows 8 and 8.1 will require a few months of training, something these companies don’t see as feasible.

“Currently, we install only Windows 7 as our desktop OS. The desktop interface of Windows 8 being different from earlier versions of Windows, it is suited more for a touchscreen environment.”, said V.V.R. Babu, Chief Information Officer of ITC Ltd.

However, there are a few organizations, like Canara Bank, which carry out timely upgrades of their systems and softwares.

When asked if giving away discounts and special offers are of any use, “I think it will definitely move the needle,” said Amrish Goyal, General Manager, Windows business group, Microsoft India.

He gave examples of KPIT Cummins Infosystems Ltd and Bangalore International Airport, which have made the switch.

“It will not be until after 2014 that we start seeing massive deployment of Windows 8,” said Peter Sondergaard, Senior Vice-President and Global Head of Research at Gartner. “There’s no business case for replacing existing legacy systems (due to huge costs) which is why most companies would rather follow the natural upgrade cycles.”

“Windows 8 was launched with the objective of introducing mobility into the organization. Mobility in any organization is never 100-percent to start with,” added Goyal.