Santos has revealed a major move to Windows 8 tablets following a desktop migration from Windows XP to Windows 7.
The Adelaide-based oil and gas company plans to bring 300 Windows 8 devices into the business this year, Santos team leader of desktops, Chris Cardillo, said at the Microsoft TechEd conference on the Gold Coast. Then, in a refresh next year of 1,000 devices, Santos will give employees the choice of a Windows 8 tablet or a Windows 7 laptop, he said.
By combining the Windows 8 devices with USB docks, Santos aims to use the tablets as employees’ only work computer, he said.
The relatively quick move to Windows 8 is part of an effort to keep ahead of the technology curve, said Cardillo. “If we don’t keep up with the times, we will see an onslaught of consumer devices coming in and we can’t manage that.”
Santos began a move from Windows XP to Windows 7 about two years ago and has about 250 devices left to migrate out of about 4,500, Cardillo said. The migration will be done by October, he said. The move will ultimately make it easier for Santos to transition to Windows 8, he said.
Cardillo expects large adoption of Windows 8 tablets in next year’s refresh because many employees are already supplementing laptops with Apple iPads and other devices, he said. Laptops may still be preferred by a small number of workers who require a system that can run specialised and demanding apps, but tablets should be practical for 90 per cent of the workforce, he said.
The all-in-one nature of Windows 8 tablets will reduce support costs, Cardillo said. He said he’s also excited about the potential applications of Windows To Go, a feature of Windows 8 Enterprise that lets users boot into Windows 8 by plugging a USB drive into their device.
For example, the To Go feature is perfect for contract workers who are only working with Santos for a short period of time, he said. Rather than provision a laptop and later take it back and wipe it, Santos can instead give the contractor a USB drive to plug into his or her own device, he said.
Windows To Go could also potentially open the door for a bring your own device (BYOD) strategy later on, said Cardillo. Currently, all devices at Santos are corporate-owned. “We’re not going down a BYOD path now, but it could be something for the future.”
Santos has been excited about Windows 8 since the American launch of the Microsoft Surface Pro in February, said Cardillo. “We got 12 on release day and sent them to Australia.” Testing of the devices was conducted over six weeks, he said.
Santos has evaluated all available Windows 8 tablets on the market, Cardillo said. “The best one I have seen so far is the Surface Pro,” he said. “The design is perfect” and “it caters to everything we need.”
HP is a hardware supplier for Santos, but Cardillo said the company does not yet have an enterprise-grade tablet that meets the company’s needs. “When they do become available, we’ll evaluate that as well.”
Cardillo reported no complaints from employees on the Windows 8 related to Microsoft replacing the Start menu with a Start screen. He said this could be because it’s easy to make shortcuts and pins to frequently used applications. “I can’t remember the last time I went to the Start menu.”
Adam Bender travelled to the Gold Coast for TechEd as a guest of Microsoft.
Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam