• Toughbook CF-C2

    Semi-rugged Windows 8 convertible tablet PC

BT engineers get Windows 8 Toughbooks to 'get the job done'

Early adoption programme proves that Windows 8 is valuable for field engineers

BT has been deploying Windows 8-based Panasonic Toughbook devices among its engineers, in order to help them work more quickly and more efficiently out in the field.

Speaking at a Windows 8 press event in London last week, BT consultant Peter Scott said that the vast majority of BT employees have computers running Windows 7, but quite a large selection of the field engineering community was still running Windows XP.

The devices were old and fairly slow, and it was not uncommon for engineers to wait 10 minutes before they could actually do what they needed to do on the device, according to Scott.

“From a pure productivity perspective that wasn't great for us, and we wanted to give those guys and girls the right tools to get the job done,” he said.

BT decided to run a series of “hot houses”, whereby the engineers were presented with a wide range of devices – from iPads to Android tablets, to traditional clamshell laptops, to slates without a keyboard and convertible devices – and asked them to choose.

The engineers said they wanted a device that booted up quickly, that was easy to log onto securely,  that worked in in tablet mode and that had a range of connectivity options, including Ethernet, WiFi and 3G/4G.

The engineers opted for convertible Toughbook devices from Panasonic, which sit like normal clamshell laptops but also swivel round for use as a tablet.

The Toughbook have all the ports they need for connecting into customers' broadband networks and, because they run Windows 8, the engineers can run all of the applications they previously ran on their XP environments.

“It's quite neat and it's got quite a nice handle on it, so when you're out and about it's very easy to carry,” said Scott.

BT began the project in September 2011, as part of Microsoft's First Wave early adoption programme, and now has about 4,500 deployed in the field.

“If you see one of our vans go past in the street there's about a one in four chance that that guy is using one of these Windows 8 devices in order to get the job done,” said Scott.

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