When Windows 8 with its sleek user interface built around sliding tiles debuts in the Fall, Microsoft aims to fuse the desktop and laptop computing experience with tablets and phones, fostering a slate of new opportunities and pitfalls for your events.
Here are our early opinions on how Windows 8 may impact your conventions and meetings.
1. Microsoft’s hope is to provide a seamless experience between devices. Users will log into whatever Windows 8 device is handy, and seamlessly access all their apps and personalized settings. If Microsoft is successful, business owners should find it much more practical to bring only tablets and smartphones to conferences, as everything will be available on every device and synced thanks to Windows 8 cloud storage. So, be prepared potentially for a growing audience of Windows 8 mobile users coming armed with their own devices, instead of Android or iOS solutions, the latter running Apples devices. We remain uncertain whether Microsofts Windows 8-enabled devices will take significant market share away from Android and Apple.
2. The platform is also designed to cater far better than previous versions, to the disabled, with new features and improvements such as a built-in screen reader and magnifier feature. Event planners loaning tablets should evaluate how the devices and tablets function for disabled guests as well.
3. The new tile interface allows items to be viewed and accessed without necessarily opening the program or app, such as glancing at new e-mails from the home screen. Take full advantage of this by widely distributing information via a conference or meeting app itself, on the website, through e-mail, and when appropriate, through text messages in order to deliver the information in a way that meets the needs and device preference of your audience.
4. Thanks to lower-power CPUs required to run the new software, batteries should last longer without a charge. Couple this with the improvements in battery quality and durability, and event managers may soon have to worry less about needing to provide recharging stations for those with mobile devices.
5. Because Windows uses Near Field Communications technology, information can be easily shared between guests by simply tapping devices together. Consider how to best arm your exhibitors and attendees with new ideas for harnessing Near Field Communications.
6. Windows 8 boasts its reliance on HTML5 technology so the code can be written once and more easily shared across multiple networks. While HTML5 does hold significant promise in this arena, in our experience the HTML5 platform is not nearly as idyllic as everyone believes it to be. Do not assume the hurdles associated with showcasing your content on Windows 8 phones and computers will be faster or easier to overcome than on other platforms.
7. Develop a Windows 8-specific app. With steadily increasing numbers of people likely giving Microsoft a try, be prepared to cater to this platform through a unique meeting app; particularly if creating apps for 2013 or beyond.
8. The new Windows 8 technology is designed to work either through touch gestures or through an external keyboard and mouse. So make sure your content is designed with that flexibility in mind.
9. The new devices in some cases will eliminate the need for virtual private networks, streamlining working remotely while maintaining secure access to company files. More than ever before, attendees may tote the home office with them on their tablets and phones. The impact of this growing ability to work while attending a conference is something conference organizers should always be evaluating when planning events.
10. If Microsoft is successful, be prepared to really start catering to the myriad of tablets and phones designed for the Windows platform and perhaps a drop in the amount of laptops. Microsofts new tablet Surface, for example, is designed to compete directly with iPad to give business professionals the reading and the ease-of-use benefits of a tablet, while not compromising the benefits of a laptop, as many find with the iPad.
In the world of technology, no one knows what will happen two years from now. Even two months from now is little more than an educated guess. Undoubtedly things will change. Its just a matter of whether Windows 8 will be a pivotal moment for mobile technology, or Microsoft simply trying to catch up to Apple and Androids early success.