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The Good Old Days of IT - 3 Big Changes

08/14/2013 by: The SunView Team

Change management, Windows 8.1

Every day, the IT Organization is faced with new challenges. Some are related to the ever increasing influence that the consumerization of IT is driving. Other issues can be directly attributed to the suppliers of our software requirements. Whether it is the new iOS and Apple Maps, or Windows 8, we in IT are constantly adapting.

In some ways, we can consider changes to be job security and learning opportunities. In other ways, however, the changes driven by BYOD are a hassle. A great way to manage the changes within the IT Organization and beyond is with an easy to use and customize ITIL-based ITSM solution. See the offer below for more information.

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If you are struggling with the changes that are constantly being thrust upon IT from your stakeholders, you may be pining for the good old days of IT. I was feeling that way after reading 10 ways tech support has changed since the 1980s by Jaime Henriquez. His reminiscing reminded me of how simple, comparatively, the role of IT was. With just a few PCs to look after in the company or institution, versus the fact that today we are almost all always connected, IT life was so much simpler.

I have chosen 3 of his top 10 as reminders of the days when support was driven by simple things like updates.

Support was task-bound

Back then, it was a rare person who had a computer at home; PCs were mostly found at work, or at school. In fact, computers at home were a problem - the software and hardware were almost never compatible with what was supported at work. The problem did have its upside, though: You could justifiably take the position that "If it's not work you're doing, it's not my problem." Tech support has since lost the battle to keep home, work, and school separate. That ship has sailed.

Support was location-bound

In the '80s, PCs were "installed" - set up on location by tech support or (occasionally) by the user. Any subsequent problems generally required a visit, traveling to the computer. As computers became smaller, cheaper, and more powerful, PCs became increasingly portable. In the 1980s, user support could be set up where the computers were. Now other approaches are required. With the spread of smartphones and tablets, complete mobility is in the cards. This change is still in progress€¦but that ship's getting ready to sail.

Users grew more knowledgeable and independent

It's important to remember that in the 1980s, personal computers were new, with computing just beginning to reach outside the walls of data centers. Users needing PC support were frequently clueless. Often, a great deal of time was spent explaining the mouse - and demonstrating how to use it. There is now a lot less training and handholding. A great many of today's users grew up with PCs and are correctly assumed to have a comparatively large amount of knowledge and skill. They're no longer naïve, they're native.

Increasingly, in fact, users are becoming co-creators of software, rather than passive recipients, whether getting involved in open source projects or being drafted - willingly or not - as bug finders. For some programs, tech support is left entirely in the hands of users, relying upon a large customer base and the noblesse oblige of the most skilled.

Of course this last good old days change that Jaime mentions brings me back to today. As I wrote in a recent blog post, Windows 8 has a big learning curve. To the point of feeling like the days when new users did not know how to use the mouse - and why would Microsoft want us to feel that way again?

In Jared Newman's post, Microsoft tweaks Windows 8.1 again to help new users, he discusses the changes that have been leaked with respect to a Windows 8 update.

The changes appear in a leaked build, Build 9471, of the near-final version of Windows 8.1, as tested by The Verge. Along with the return of the Start button, better built-in apps, and more options within the modern-style interface, the changes should smooth out the learning curve of Windows 8.

Yes, it would be nice to minimize the learning curve. In a Poll: Is Windows 8 worth the hassle? Author Rick Broida notes his feelings about Windows 8, and asks for yours.

Regular readers of this column already know my position: I don't like it. I've tried it on laptops and tablets alike, and every time I come away asking myself the same question: Why? Why did Microsoft make so many UI changes that offer so little benefit to the user?

Most Windows 8 supporters will tell you, "If you don't like the new Metro interface, just install a third-party utility that restores the Start Button and lets you boot to the Desktop." Sure, you could do that. You could banish Metro forever. Know what you've got then? Windows 7.

The poll results are pretty telling. About 20% feel that Windows 8 is great and more than 35% want to go back to Windows 7. No matter how you feel about Windows 8, some relief for the IT Organization is coming (maybe) in 8.1. I hope so, because I am so over the "what is a mouse" level Service Desk request.

Flicker image by bobfamiliar