Banks Hold Off on Windows 8 Internal Upgrades

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Part two in a series

Banks are in no hurry to upgrade their enterprises to Windows 8, Microsoft’s (MSFT) radically redesigned operating system for desktop, laptop and tablet that became widely available to consumers and businesses last week.

Windows 8 has many new features, including a touch-screen user interface and a Start screen filled with "live tiles" that stream information from third parties, such as business metrics at a glance.
 
Despite the overhaul of Windows, a reticence to upgrade is typical of banks and businesses. There are three main reasons for it: Some banks have only recently finished upgrading to Windows 7; they are bogged down by legacy technology issues; and financial institutions are waiting to see how the market responds to the new software and hardware, including app development.

“[In the short term], there’s not a whole lot of incentive, especially if they are just getting over the hump of training users on Windows 7,” David Albertazzi, a senior analyst with Aite Group LLC, tells BTN.

Huntington Bancshares (HBAN) is one bank coming from that camp.

“We’re just now putting Windows 7 on [our] desktops,” Huntington's Chief Digital Officer Jeff Dennes tells BTN.
 
Plus, though Dennes says he reads and hears many comments about “the new era of Microsoft,” he says only time will tell whether that’s actually true. “I’m [of] much more of a wait and see [philosophy],” says Dennes.
 
A Michigan-based bank is another institution in no hurry to upgrade to Windows 8.
 
“I think we’re in the same boat as a lot of banks, [and are] waiting on legacy software compatibility issues before diving into Windows 8,” said John Schulte, senior vice present and CIO at Mercantile Bank of Michigan, in an email. The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based bank’s deployment of Windows 8 is on indefinite hold, Schulte says.
 
An industry trade group believes Mercantile Bank and Huntington will be in good company as they wait to upgrade.
 
“The migration path for business is frankly a slow process,” says Doug Johnson, vice president and senior advisor of risk management at the American Bankers Association. Johnson points out that the trade association just recently finished its migration to Windows 7 from Windows XP as personal evidence of how the business population will come slower to Windows 8.
 
Tablet Tale 
Yet pioneers such as ING Direct in Canada are undertaking some Windows 8 pilot projects. The institution is looking at how Microsoft’s new tablets might benefit employee activity.
 
The Microsoft tablets, called Surface, hit the market along with Windows 8 last Friday. However, Surface is currently only available with Windows RT, which means only new Windows 8 apps will run on the hardware. Surface tablets that can run Windows 8 Pro are expected to arrive in January.
 
As the hardware enters the market, banks and vendors are evaluating how that may benefit their operations.
 
“Today at our bank, like many other organizations, people are bringing in their tablet devices and want to use them for corporate functions,” says ING Direct in Canada’s Chief Information Officer Charaka Kithulegoda, adding that his bank finds secure and reliable ways to let them, while respecting the organization’s assets. “I think Windows 8, if it lives up to promises, will give us an option to not issue a laptop and tablet.”

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