Windows 8.1 for the Enterprise

There have been a number of announcements about the upcoming Windows 8.1 and now we have more information around how the latest Windows OS update will help enterprises.

BYOD – Bring Your Own Device

This is a huge area of interest for a huge number of people and organizations right now. Even if they’re just at the research stage, well over 60% of the people that I speak to are looking at how BYOD may/will impact their business…whether they want it to or not. Microsoft have announced a number of key additions in this area:

  • Workplace Join – This feature allows a middle ground between all or nothing access, allowing a user to work on the device of their choice and still have access to corporate resources. With Workplace Join, IT administrators now have the ability to offer finer-grained control to corporate resources. If a user registers their device, IT can grant some access while still enforcing some governance parameters on the device to ensure the security of corporate assets.
  • Work Folders - Work Folders allows a user to sync data to their device from their user folder located in the corporation’s data center. Files created locally will sync back to the file server in the corporate environment. This syncing is natively integrated into the file system.  IT can enforce Dynamic Access Control policies on the Work Folder Sync Share (including automated Rights Management) and require Workplace Join to be in place.
  • NFC tap-to-pair printing – Tap your Windows 8.1 device on an NFC enabled printer and boom – you’re printing!
  • Wi-Fi Direct Printing – No additional drivers or software are needed to connect to Wi-Fi Direct printers.
  • Native Miracast support – Connect to a Miracast enabled projector with no cables or dongles.
  • Web App Proxy – This new service in the Windows Server Remote Access role provides the ability to publish access to corporate resources, enforce multi-factor authentication and more.
  • Multiple VDI Enhancements – Various additions to Windows Server 2012 R2 will make it easier and more cost effective to support VDI environments.

Mobility Enhancements

  • VPN – Added support for a wider range of VPN clients – in Windows AND Windows RT.
  • Mobile Broadband – Windows 8.1 supports embedded radios for this, giving longer battery life as well as thinner and cheaper devices.
  • Broadband Tethering – Use your Windows 8.1 device as a WiFi hotspot.
  • Auto VPN – When an app requires VPN access, one click sign in will now be possible.

Security Enhancements

  • Remote Business Data Removal – This gives organizations greater control over their content; being able to mark it as corporate and then wiping it when the relationship between company & user ends.
  • Improved Biometrics – End to End biometric support as well as optimization for fingerprint biometrics. Access to apps and their content can be restricted based on their biometric identity.
  • Pervasive Device Encryption – The encryption found in Windows RT & Windows Phone 8 will now be available in all editions of Windows.
  • IE 11 – faster page load times, side by side browsing, 3D graphics, and more all in Windows 8.1.
  • Assigned Access – This new Windows 8.1 feature will allow you to set a single (Windows store) app on a device. This can be for  in store experiences as well as educational uses and more.

Modern UI Experience

  • Variable Snap Views – Resize apps, share the screen between 2 apps or have up to 3 apps on each monitor (depending on resolution)
  • Boot to Desktop – Perhaps the #1 reason I hear for why a business isn’t moving to Windows 8 and it has now been addressed.
  • Desktop & Start Screen – Improvements have been made to better support the mouse & keyboard experience within Windows 8.1.

More info can be found here:

http://blogs.windows.com/windows/b/springboard/archive/2013/06/03/what-s-new-for-the-enterprise-in-windows-8-1.aspx

These improvements are all excellent additions to what is (I feel) a great OS, and will serve to make Windows 8 even more popular with existing users and open it up to a whole new section of users and organizations.

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