Microsoft’s Windows Store for Windows 8 offers a few thousand apps, many of them focused on consumers. But Microsoft is also depending on a significant number of business-centric apps in order to draw the broadest possible audience to its new operating system—after all, one of the key selling points of a Windows 8 tablet is its ability to run Office and Windows legacy software, which (at least in theory) could lead some businesses to choose the platform over Apple’s iPad.
SAP is jumping into the Windows 8 apps game with a whole set: SAP WorkDeck, which filters workflow data through a single interface; SAP Manager Insight, which feeds managers data about everything from employee headcount to diversity; an SAP Learning Assistant for online training; an SAP Interview Assistant recruiting app; an SAP Customer Financial Fact Sheet, a customer-profile app; and an SAP GRC Policy Survey for reviewing and acknowledging relevant policy changes.
Mobility is one of the next great realms for data analysis and display, with companies large and small creating apps for tablets and smartphones designed to deliver data in a seamless way to managers and workers. In addition to SAP, Oracle recently pushed out a new release of Oracle Business Intelligence that emphasizes mobile-device support and visualization; Pentaho issued Mobile BI, which adapts that company’s business-analytics platform to the iPad; and IBM has its own mobile offerings.
Many of these mobile offerings are meant for Android, iOS, and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry franchise. The question is whether developers will port those apps to Windows 8. For many months, various Microsoft executives have used every public opportunity to tout the potential windfall that awaits developers who build apps for Windows 8, which they predict will sell in the same epic volumes as previous Windows releases.
However, businesses tend to upgrade to new OS versions at a glacial pace. When Windows 7 made its debut three years ago, for example, a sizable percentage of businesses still relied on the aging workhorse of Windows XP. Even if a large number of consumers and workers rush out to upgrade to Windows 8, millions more will almost certainly hold off. But whether that dissuades the big IT vendors from actually building business-data apps for the Windows 8 platform remains to be seen.