Here’s a typical conversation at the Windows 8 Server virtual water cooler in the not-too-distant future:
Tech 1: “What are you guys running, Server 2003?”
Tech 2: “No, 8”
Tech 1: “R1 or R2?”
Tech 2: “No… Server 8… Not 08.”
I’m not suggesting Microsoft is aiming its Microsoft Windows 8 Server at non-enterprise customers in the home. It’s got Windows Home Server (WHS) for that. Then again, there are some good reasons some folks might want it at home. Here’s why.
The power user will think, “The Windows Server 8 metro interface looks like my Windows 8 interface and my Nokia phone. The tiles are just delivering different sets of information. I’ve mastered the phone. How hard could Windows 8 server be?”
Now, NetWare 4.11 was scary. Windows Server 8 looks like a candy wrapper. It the easiest server ever to install — and most network admins will be installing it again and again. IT will just clone it all after that. Remember, Microsoft has baked virtualization into Server 8 with its built-in HyperV. So why did it improve the ease of installation?
Because server tech isn’t just for server managers anymore.
People outside IT aren’t scared, either
Tech users are smarter than ever. And the smart ones are multiplying. You’ve got people working in sales or marketing with one, two or even three devices — personal devices each more powerful than anything IT is serving up. These are the people who fix their own problems. They grew up with the Web. They think playing a server is fun. And it kind of is. Windows 8 server supports dual monitors — they’ll be running Windows 7 or 8 virtualized on one of them before you know it.
Whether Microsoft is trying to hit the consumer, non-IT market squarely doesn’t much matter. But by putting its Metro UI on Windows Phone 7.5, Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Windows Server, it’s sending a message: the consumer is everywhere, and the line between IT and non-IT tech users is blurring and almost gone. You’re looking at the convergence of the enterprise and consumers.
People at work already use personal gadgets and services in the enterprise. Windows Server 8 — not 2008 R2 – is one step closer to a world where consumer and the enterprise are one in the same. IT needs to get used to it.