When Windows 8 Arrives, Will You Be Ready?
April 15, 2013 learningsolutionsmag.com | by Bill Rosenthal, CEO, Logical Operations

Like death and taxes, you can’t escape upgrades to Windows. Your organization’s IT department could decide to convert the workforce to the Windows 8 operating system before you know it. 

Unless the organization just upgraded to Windows 7, that day might be quite soon—and the changeover could become one of the organization’s most ambitious learning initiatives. Will you be ready to implement the changeover? Here’s a plan that will help you manage it with ease. 

Do your homework

Your first step is to meet with the head of IT to learn what that department might be planning in the way of Windows upgrades. Learn everything you can about the timing and scope of any change planned. Determine what additional application software training will be required. Assure the IT director that the learning unit is ready to facilitate a smooth transition.

It’s important that you have a personal understanding of why an organization would want to switch over to Windows 8. If you haven’t done so already, check out Windows 8’s differences over older operating systems. You’ll find it takes getting used to, something that I as an early Windows 8 adopter can confirm. You’ll also learn its particular advantages. Here are five of the most significant ones.

  • Microsoft built Windows 8 for multi-device sync. It allows seamless change from a user’s desktop to tablet to phone, etc. This will become increasingly useful as employees become ever more mobile.
  • The user’s most sensitive data is now on one dashboard and updated in real time. There’s no more shifting around to find snippets of data (new emails, links to LinkedIn notifications, etc.)
  • Once an employee uses touch technologies, there’s no going back. Touch represents the future of electronics. Faster than the traditional mouse, it’s becoming the natural way for people to work.
  • Split-screen apps allow multitasking at its finest. The user can display and work on two things at once under one screen, translating across all devices.
  • Office 2013 has the same themes and technology as Windows 8, allowing the user to have a consistent experience.

Segmentation and skill sets

The first action step to take is to segment the workforce into distinct groups so you can provide each person with the optimal kind of training. Employees with different computer skill levels need different kinds of training, of course. I recommend that you segment employees into four groups:

  • Group 1: Basic knowledge PC users
  • Group 2: Power PC users—Level 1
  • Group 3: Power PC users—Level 2
  • Group 4: Tablet adopters

Here are the skill sets members of each of these groups need so they can use Windows 8 to maximum advantage.

Skill sets needed for Group 1: Basic knowledge PC users

  1. Getting to know PCs and the Windows 8 user interface
  2. Using modern apps and navigation features
  3. Working with desktop applications
  4. Using Internet Explorer 10
  5. Customizing the Windows 8 environment
  6. Using Windows 8 security features

You can teach the skill sets needed by this group in one day of training.

Skill sets needed for Group 2: Power PC users—Level I

  1. Navigating the Windows 8 environment
  2. Working with common features
  3. Customizing the Windows 8 environment
  4. Using Internet Explorer 10
  5. Using Windows 8 security features
  6. Using other Windows 8 features 

You can teach the skill sets needed by this group in one day of training.

Skill sets needed for Group 3: Power PC users—Level 2

  1. Navigating the Windows 8 environment
  2. Working with common features
  3. Customizing the Windows 8 environment

The skill sets needed by this group will require two days of training. 

Meeting the challenges

You’ll find that segmenting the workforce into these four groups, and giving members of each group the skill sets they need, will provide a much better payoff than a one-size-fits-all approach to the training. 
You should be aware that Windows 8 has a steep learning curve. Students won’t be able to take full advantage of its potential and maximize productivity after only an initial training. Content reinforcement is essential. There are reinforcement modules available that will help you make the training stick as well as teach how to make Windows 8 even more productive.

Will your organization upgrade? IT’s quandary

You’re no doubt aware of the reasons why an organization might hesitate to implement adoption of Windows 8. Economic uncertainty is making the financial folks question spending for new technology-supported solutions—employee training among them. There’s also competition from OS X. There’s also the understandable concern about pioneering the acceptance of something so radically different from what preceded it. But there should be greater concern about being left behind as competitors make their people more effective than yours are. In many different kinds of technologies, organizations are adopting new systems at faster and faster speeds. You want to be certain your competition isn’t moving faster than your organization is. 

Apart from Windows 8’s advantages that I cited earlier, it has many more: The system combines the touch-friendly interface and responsiveness of the iPad with the versatility of the desktop. It has better virus protection and security. The list of apps it runs—quickly and easily—grows daily. 

Microsoft is spending between $1.5 and $1.8 billion to promote the adoption of Windows 8. “You will not be able to pick up a magazine, go to the Internet, or turn on the television set without seeing one of our ads,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a group of developers. Windows 8’s marketing budget may be the biggest ever dedicated to a computer product launch. 

The company says that manufacturers have designed more than 1,000 new computers and tablets around Windows 8. Microsoft has signed a licensing deal with the US Department of Defense to give Windows 8 to three-quarters of its 450,000 employees.

Windows 8 will cause as big a shift in computer usage as the transition from DOS to Windows did two decades ago. The system is finding its way into the office and will continue to do so even if you do nothing about it. That’s because employees are introducing it via their own devices at BYOD-friendly workplaces.

You’d do well to take the initiative in persuading IT to move the workforce to Windows 8. You’ll be demonstrating leadership in improving workforce productivity and bottom-line results. Love it or hate it, you can’t ignore Windows 8.