Martin Veitch (Europe) - Interview: Avanade UK CTO Says Move to Windows 8 Will Take Time

In the wake of a 9,000-seat Windows XP to Windows 7 deployment, Avanade CTO Mark Corley says many large firms are only just making the move to Microsoft's last but one operating system. He also casts doubt on some uses of Agile and scrum methodologies

Windows 8 may have been available for months but many corporates are still making the transition to Windows 7, according to Avanade, the Microsoft- and Accenture-backed joint-venture IT services company. The company said yesterday that easyJet has deployed about 9,000 seats, upgrading from Windows XP to take advantage of Windows 7’s faster boot-up times and an improved remote working experience.

In an interview, Avanade UK and Ireland CTO Mark Corley said that he is seeing more major XP to Windows 7 transitions than those to Microsoft’s latest desktop OS.

“People are dipping their toes in the water on Windows 8 and [Windows] slate devices,” Corley said. “For Microsoft, it’s really all about getting people off the earlier version of Windows and for now Windows 8 only really makes sense for touch-screen devices.”

Corley said he believes that devices such as the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, systems based on Intel’s imminent next generation of Atom processors and peripherals such as Logitech’s T650 large touchpad will help but added that currently there is limited appetite for Windows 8 among large companies, except for pockets of activity. These include clipboard-style applications such as those for doctors walking hospital wards or “queue-buster” applications in retail environments to reduce customer waiting times.

However, Corley said that Avanade continues to grow at over 20 per cent per year globally, spurred on by a range of stimuli such as e-commerce refreshes and ERP refreshes. Microsoft technologies are doing particularly well in supplementing core ERP installations such as SAP systems. Dynamics AX and CRM in particular are “nibbling at the edges ... people are coming around to the fact that SAP is not necessarily the answer”.

He is also bullish on Microsoft’s in-memory SQL Server database ‘Hekaton’ and says SharePoint also continues to flourish despite a wave of newer tools like Jive,’s Chatter, Box and Dropbox. However, Corley said that because it is effectively a gated community for companies private social networks within companies it might be a while before Yammer, acquired by company last year, has a major impact in the UK. He cited Beckstrom’s Law which states that “The value of a network equals the net value added to each user’s transactions conducted through that network, summed over all users."

Corley is also sceptical about the fashion for Agile and Scrum methodologies which he said can sometimes be abused by proponents.

“I see a lot of people using it but also a lot of people using it in a Wild West, stand-about-and-have-a-chat way. It’s great when a company doesn’t know what to do or doesn’t have a clear view of the possibilities but some use it as a way to remove all process. The closedown of an Agile project is often the neatest part.”

Instead he commends what he calls ‘Water-scrum-fall’, saying developers should combine the best of classic waterfall iterative development approaches with regular check-in stages and combine them with the brainstorming and pace of Agile/Scrum.