Dell recommends Windows 8.

Touching Benchmarks for Win 8 Migration

Curtis Franklin Jr., Executive Editor | 11/12/2012 | 13 comments

Curtis Franklin Jr.
New components have a knack for showing off the weakness of old components. That's a lesson some early adopters are learning through Windows 8.

It's no secret that the new Windows 8 interface is optimized for touchscreens. It's also no secret that most enterprise customers aren't going to run out and scrap their thousands of personal computers just to let employees start pawing the displays. Instead, most companies will make use of existing systems, both desktop and laptop, and phase in Windows 8 on a combination of their legacy hardware and new systems. On both categories of client hardware, there's a a single component that will have a huge impact on the quality of the user experience.

I'm talking about the touchpad, of course. Barring a touchscreen, a touchpad is the best way to use the tile-based New Windows interface. Some of the existing laptops in your enterprise fleet will have touchpads that work with Windows 8, though the reality is that many of them will be marginal for a good Win 8 user experience. You'll give these to users who are the first adopters (but not the high-status corporate users) and they'll figure out how to make things work while bad-mouthing Windows 8 to anyone who'll listen. The more interesting decisions will come when you decide to add new machines to the enterprise client fleet.

There has been a list of component specifications and qualities that IT departments traditionally use in making purchase decisions for client fleet purchases. CPU, graphics, RAM, hard disk capacity, and I/O functions topped the list, and here's the most important hardware note you'll get for your migration to Windows 8: It's time for your list to change.

To begin with, CPU speed no longer matters. That's a hard admission for me to make, since I started my career running Whetstones and Dhrystones on computers to compare fixed- and floating-point performance. Today, though, every CPU you're going to find in a laptop or desktop computer sold for enterprise use is fast enough. The same is broadly true of graphics performance, though you'll want to make sure that your system is optimized for virtual desktop graphics. A GPU is an important piece of the puzzle, and Open GL/X Windows support is critical. RAM? Get lots. Hard drive? Not nearly the concern in enterprise machines as in consumer computers, so feel free to go smaller. I/O? Look to your security standards for guidance. That leaves touchpad resolution and quality as the key differentiators you'll want to be looking at in new machines.

Gesture-capable touchpads are one of the components that are sufficiently new to be un-benchmarked in most organizations. What does that mean? It means calling up your favorite hardware vendors, ordering examples of all the candidate laptops (or desktop computers) and setting up usability benchmarks. Yes, it will cost a few dollars in resources and time, but the results for Windows 8 productivity are sufficiently high to make it worthwhile to go through the effort. Windows 8 is here. User productivity is critical. So testing to get this one component right is absolutely critical.

It's been a while since we had a piece of client hardware for which performance was critical. Now we do. Dust off your testing group and put them to work -- your bottom line will be the long-term winner.

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Toby   Touching Benchmarks for Win 8 Migration   12/11/2012 9:48:42 AM
Re: CPU Speed ?
Agreed. However how long is too long..? My experience is about a year gets most of the Mr Softee Gremlins out of the way. However it may take more than a year to deploy and train as well.
anthony.nima   Touching Benchmarks for Win 8 Migration   11/30/2012 3:09:10 AM
Re: CPU Speed ?
My advice to all would be not to rsuh into migrations since there are some issues with Win 8 and it might not be the right time or what you exactly expect from Win 8 right now. Surely with the time being it will improve since MS is a company which has a lot of resources to back their issues but still its not upto the standards that normally MS do create.
Toby   Touching Benchmarks for Win 8 Migration   11/23/2012 7:06:59 AM
CPU Speed ?
Interesting post, I was struck by the comment that CPU speed does not matter. I have found an application where it matters again: Voice Recognition and Transcription.

If hardware vendors need a consumer-focused reason to drive clock speeds and performance higher, this is the one to use. The value to the consumer in VR is great but it is sorely held back by the limitations of today's (still very fast) CPU's.

Trek   Touching Benchmarks for Win 8 Migration   11/22/2012 7:43:00 PM
Re: Enterprise
@ Susan,  that is a question that is very much worthy of research.  There has been some research on the subject. An Exploration of Technology Diffusion  Some indicators are past technology increases technology diffusion, per capital income, having children increases adoption of shopping technology and many other complex reasons.  For example there is top down diffusion or bottom up diffusion and macro-level theories and micro-level theories. 

What ever the answer is, and I'm sure that the answer will vary from country to country, it something certainly deserves more research. 
Tuscany   Touching Benchmarks for Win 8 Migration   11/19/2012 12:56:50 AM
Don't Forget the (Virtual) Desktop
Thanks Curtis for your explanation of the importance of virtual desktop graphics, something that could be overlooked in a massive rollout and would most likely result in extra costs to correct this oversight after the fact.
Tuscany   Touching Benchmarks for Win 8 Migration   11/13/2012 10:13:03 PM
Re: The fall of the house of Redmond
Thanks Toby,  I was not aware of this article, at first I was going to be skeptical, the person who headed Windows 8 is leaving ?  Well, not so fast, I actually think he was due for a change, I like how they make mention that had he left before the release then I would be sounding the alarm, but since the it was after - I see it as more of a cabinet change like the article suggests.

Even if there is something to it -  Mr.Sinofsky doesn't appear to be the type that will even go there publicly.
Susan Fogarty   Touching Benchmarks for Win 8 Migration   11/13/2012 3:50:39 PM
Re: The fall of the house of Redmond
Yes, Sinofsky's departure seems to be the news story of the day. You can read every interpretation under the sun. To me, it seems to early to be related to performance of Windows 8. More likely that the project ended and it was time to move on. Whether that was his choice or MS's is a different story!
Toby   Touching Benchmarks for Win 8 Migration   11/13/2012 11:55:50 AM
The fall of the house of Redmond
Has anyone seen this article yet? Seems that the guy behind Win 8 is leaving...all rather unexpected. Any thoughts..?
Susan Fogarty   Touching Benchmarks for Win 8 Migration   11/13/2012 8:09:28 AM
Re: Enterprise
I agree with Randomus -- I'm not sure enterprises will be hurrying to adopt touchscreens, except for highly mobile workers and really niche jobs. Testing thenm is one thing, but I wonder how long they will last with full-time usage?
Susan Fogarty   Touching Benchmarks for Win 8 Migration   11/13/2012 8:04:46 AM
Re: Enterprise
Trek, that news is really interesting. It has me a bit stumped -- any thoughts about why Vietnam, Hungary and Portugal are adopting so much quicker?
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