Today’s enterprise employees rely on anywhere from two to four different computers or mobile devices to do their jobs, from desktop and laptop PCs to tablets and smartphones. Managing a variety of different devices and operating systems can become a nightmare for users and for IT departments.
Microsoft and Apple are aiming to make this easier. You may already know that both Windows 8 and OS X Mountain Lion are launching this year, but you might not know how these two operating systems—as well as iOS, which is already in the market—will help you manage all the mobile devices in your workplace.
In sum, both Microsoft and Apple are moving toward platform convergence, says a recent article in Wired. That means their upcoming OS releases will improve your ability to connect multiple PCs and devices for an easier, more streamlined computing experience. Essentially these new operating systems will enable users—and IT—to work more effectively across all of their Apple or Windows 8 devices.
But it’s important to underscore that Microsoft and Apple aren’t taking the same approach. Microsoft has enjoyed considerable success in the PC market—with Windows exceeding a 90-percent market share for desktop PCs—while Apple has kept an edge in mobility, particularly in the smartphone market. Because the companies want to play to their strengths, Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Apple’s OS X Mountain Lion and iOS are going their own ways to close the device divide.
So, which OS is right for you and your organization? In this post, we’ll review all three on their ability to unify and manage PCs and mobile devices in the workplace.
User Experience: Consistent or Distinct?
To start, Microsoft and Apple built their operating systems very differently. As we wrote earlier, Windows 8 offers the same operating system across multiple devices—tablets, PCs and smartphones—whereas iOS is strictly for tablets and smartphones, and OS X Mountain Lion is strictly for PCs.
For IT departments that have to manage both mobile devices and PCs, Apple may be the more expensive and complicated route. IT teams will need to be trained on both iOS and OS X Mountain Lion, and administer support uniquely for those operating systems. That means additional time—and by extension, money—is necessary to keep Apple devices managed and secure. Conversely, Windows 8 is the same OS on tablets and desktop PCs.
Cross-Platform App Compatibility: An Extra Step
Apple and Microsoft also take divergent paths when it comes to the compatibility of their apps across different devices. With Windows 8, you can access the same apps on a Windows 8 tablet that you can on a Windows 8 PC. OS X Mountain Lion, however, will not run iOS apps, and vice versa. You have to buy and install separate versions for each operating system.
Though most Apple apps are available in both formats, it’s an extra step for IT departments. With Apple, IT (or users) will have to procure and deploy two versions of each app they want to use. When organizations create their own homegrown apps, they’ll also have to develop two versions.
Windows 8 apps don’t have this problem: they only come in one format—simply Windows 8 Metro apps—so they’re ideal for businesses that build a lot of their own apps. Windows 8 Metro apps will work on ARM and x86. And while ARM processors can’t run x86 apps, they can run Metro apps.
Cloud Services: Details Matter
Generally speaking, Microsoft’s SkyDrive and Apple’s iCloud are similar in many ways, and particularly so in Windows 8 and OS X Mountain Lion. Both of these upcoming operating systems will enable users to sync all kinds of files—including documents—across all their Windows 8 or Apple devices. They will share data across a broad spectrum of devices, so workers can move between desktops and tablets seamlessly and IT professionals can better access all those devices.
But Windows 8 brings one remarkable advantage to SkyDrive: the “Forgot something?” feature. This feature will enable users to access their home files remotely through the SkyDrive site by running the SkyDrive desktop service. It will give IT the ability, for instance, to work with files through the cloud that weren’t added to SkyDrive—after passing a couple security measures.
I’m expecting the Win8 OS vs iOS battle to be a noisy one, but at the end of the day it will be won by the solution that is the fastest and cheapest to implement and use. If your business is considering new operating systems, which ones are you looking at? What are your must-have features? Let us know by commenting below!
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