Windows 8.1 Enterprise enhancements are unlikely to jolt business adoption

Last Updated on Tuesday, 4 June 2013 11:55 Written by admin Tuesday, 4 June 2013 11:53

Among the updates that Windows 8 Service Pack 1 (SP1) 8.1 will bring to the table are enhancements targeted at business users. That’s according to Microsoft. The company provided the consistent list of updates included below. The question is, will the new enterprise enhancements in Windows 8.1 jolt business user adoption? My 2 cents: not likely.

According to this month’s OS usage share statistics by Net Applications, Windows 8 accounts for a share of just 4.27%. That’s less than Windows Vista. They’re also about the same level when it comes to the love-they’re-getting department, if you ask me. Over half a year after Windows 8 was released, this percentage goes to show crystal clearly that there’s not much love wasted on the latest iteration of Windows nowadays. And the business environment has surely changed. Microsoft is feeling a sort of double impact.

On one side there are companies watching their IT costs and postponing upgrades as much as possible (XP has an usage share of almost 38%, STILL), especially since the same hardware is capable of running for longer and multiple versions of the same operating system. And in addition, the consumerization of IT trend has resulting in giving users a voice for their preferences when it comes to purchases that 10 years ago were made without a second thought as to what platform iteration Joe in accounting prefers to play Solitaire on.

The reason why I’m confident that Windows 8.1 won’t accelerate the platform’s usage share both in and out of the office is a little event that I witnessed recently. Over at an IT company, I won’t say which one, the pre-installed copies of Windows 8 acquired with new machines were downgraded to Windows 7 before being deployed into production. This also goes to show Microsoft, that sold copies of Windows are not equivalent to used copies of Windows, especially if you also count channel sales.

 

B.Y.O.D (Bring Your Own Device) Enhancements

  • Workplace Join – A Windows 8 PC was either domain joined or not. If it was a member of the domain, the user could access corporate resources (if permissioned) and IT could control the PC through group policy and other mechanisms. 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. Note, this all happens outside the firewall client sync support. Previously, Windows 8 devices needed to be domain joined (or required domain credentials) for access to file shares. Syncing could be done with 3rd party folder replication apps. With Work Folders, Users can keep local copies of their work files on their devices, with automatic synchronization to your data center, and for access from other devices. 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.
  • Open MDM- While many organizations have investments with System Center and will continue to leverage these investments we also know that many organizations want to manage certain classes of devices, like tablets and BYOD devices, as mobile devices. With Windows 8.1, you can use an OMA-DM API agent to allow management of Windows 8.1 devices with mobile device management products, like Mobile Iron or Air Watch .
  • NFC tap-to-pair printing – Tap your Windows 8.1 device against an NFC-enabled printer and you’re all set to print without hunting on your network for the correct printer. You also don’t need to buy new printers to take advantage of this; you can simply put an NFC tag on your existing printers to enable this functionality.
  • Wi-Fi Direct printing – Connect to Wi-Fi Direct printers without adding additional drivers or software on your Windows 8.1 device, forming a peer-to-peer network between your device and any Wi-Fi enabled printer.
  • Native Miracast wireless display – Present your work wirelessly with no connection cords or dongles needed; just pair with project to a Miracast-enabled projector through Bluetooth or NFC and Miracast will use Wi-Fi to let you project wire-free.
  • Mobile Device Management – When a user enrolls their device, they are joining the device to the Windows Intune management service. They get access to the Company Portal which provides a consistent experience for access to their applications, data and to manage their own devices. This allows a deeper management experience with existing tools like Windows Intune. IT administrators now have more comprehensive policy management for Windows RT devices, and can manage Windows 8.1 PCs as mobile devices without having to deploy a full management client.
  • Web Application Proxy - The Web Application Proxy is a new role service in the Windows Server Remote Access role. It provides the ability to publish access to corporate resources, and enforce multi-factor authentication as well as apply conditional access policies to verify both the user’s identity and the device they are using resources, and enforce multi-factor authentication as well as verify the device being used before access is granted.
  • RDS Enhancements – Enhanced VDI in Server 2012 R2 which delivers improvements in Management, Value, and User Experience. Session Shadowing allows Admins to view and remotely control active user sessions in an RDSH server. Disk dedupe and storage tiering allow for lower cost storage options. User experience for RemoteApps, network connectivity and multiple display support has been improved. Administrators can now easily support users with session desktops to provide helpdesk style support. Administrators now have even more flexible storage options to support a VDI environment without expensive SAN investments. End users will find RemoteApp behavior is more like local apps, and the experience in low-bandwidth is better, with faster reconnects and improved compression, and support for multiple monitors.

Mobility Enhancements

  • VPN - We have added support for a wider range of VPN clients in both Windows and Windows RT devices. We have also added the ability to have an app automatically trigger VPN connections.
  • Mobile Broadband – At Windows 8 launch, the devices had embedded radios that were separate components within the devices.  Windows 8.1 supports embedded wireless radio, which gives you increased power savings, longer battery life, also enables thinner form factors and lower cost devices.
  • Broadband tethering – Turn your Windows 8.1 mobile broadband-enabled PC or tablet into a personal Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing other devices to connect and access the internet.
  • Auto-triggered VPN –When you select an app or resource that needs access through the inbox VPN – like a company’s intranet site – Windows 8.1 will automatically prompt you to sign in with one click. This feature will be available with Microsoft and third-party inbox VPN clients.

Security Enhancements

  • Remote Business Data Removal – Corporations now have more control over corporate content which can be marked as corporate, encrypted, and then be wiped when the relationship between the corporation and user has ended. Corporate data can now be identified as corporate vs. user, encrypted, and wiped on command using EAS or EAS + OMA-DM protocol. This capability is requires implementation in the client application and in the server application (Mail + Exchange Server). The client application determines if the wipe simply makes the data inaccessible or actually deletes it.
  • Improved Biometrics - All SKU’s will include end to end biometric capabilities that enable authenticating with your biometric identity anywhere in Windows (Windows sign-in, remote access, UAC, etc.). Windows 8.1 will be optimized for fingerprint based biometrics and will include a common fingerprint enrollment experience that will work with a variety of readers (touch, swipe). Modern readers are capacitive touch based rather than swipe and include liveliness detection that prevents spoofing (e.g.: silicon emulated fingerprints). Access to Windows Store Apps, functions within them, and certificate release can be gated based on verification of a user’s biometric identity.
  • Pervasive Device Encryption – Device encryption previously found on Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 is now available in all editions of Windows. It is enabled out of the box and can be configured with additional BitLocker protection and management capability on Pro and Enterprise SKU. Consumer devices are automatically encrypted and protected when using a Microsoft account. Data on any Windows connected standby device is automatically protected (encrypted) with device encryption. Organizations that need to manage encryption can easily take add additional BitLocker protection options and manageability to these devices.
  • Improved Internet Explorer - Internet Explorer 11 improvements include faster page load times, side-by-side browsing of your sites, enhanced pinned site notifications, and app settings like favorites, tabs and settings sync across all your Windows 8.1 PCs. Internet Explorer 11 also now includes capability that enables an antimalware solution to scan the input for a binary extension before it’s passed onto the extension for execution.
  • Malware Resistance –Windows Defender, Microsoft’s free antivirus solution in Windows 8, will include network behavior monitoring to help detect and stop the execution of known and unknown malware. Internet Explorer will scan binary extensions (e.g. ActiveX) using the antimalware solution before potentially harmful code is executed.
  • Assigned Access- With Assigned Access, a new feature offered in Windows 8.1 RT, Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 8.1 Enterprise, you can enable a single Windows Store application experience on the device.  This can be things like a learning application for kids in an educational setting or a Customer Service application at a boutique, Assigned Access can ensure the device is delivering the intended experience. In our Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry product, we deliver additional lockdown capabilities to meet the needs of Industry devices like Point of Sale Systems, ATMs, and Digital Signs.

Modern UI experience

  • Variable, continuous size of snap views – You have more ways to see multiple apps on the screen at once. You can resize apps to nearly infinite sized windows, share the screen between two apps, or have up to three apps on each monitor depending on resolution.
  • Boot to Desktop – we have made configuration options available which will allow you to boot directly to the desktop in Windows 8.1.
  • Desktop and Start screen – Improvements have been made to better support users who prefer a mouse and keyboard experience to access applications.

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Download Free Windows 8 Virtual Copy

Last Updated on Tuesday, 2 April 2013 12:29 Written by admin Tuesday, 2 April 2013 12:29

Microsoft is really outdoing itself providing web developers with a collection of tools designed to help out tailor their projects to various Internet Explorer versions still out there. As a part of the company’s ongoing efforts, a refreshed arsenal of free Windows virtual images are available for download straight from Microsoft, completely free of charge. One of the free OS images offers a free virtual copy of Windows 8 complete with Internet Explorer 10 (IE10). But wait, there’s more. There are also free copies of Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP that are just sitting over at Modern.ie waiting for you to download them.


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Get ready for Windows Blue and Build 2013

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 11:33 Written by admin Tuesday, 26 March 2013 11:32

Microsoft is getting ready to start the conversation on what’s next for Windows, and various other products related to the operating system, at its upcoming Build conference. This can only mean one thing, the Redmond company will open up on Windows Blue. If I were to put money on it, I’d say that Microsoft will share a bit more than just information on the successor of Windows 8. Personally, I’m expecting some bits as the company will most likely increase the current testing pool of the OS. Fingers crossed.

Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President and Chief Evangelist, Developer & Platform Evangelism:

“I’m pleased to announce and personally invite you to our next developer conference, Build 2013, which is taking place June 26-28, 2013 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. It’s been a while since our last developer event in the Bay Area, and we’re looking forward to a fantastic gathering. Save the date and mark your calendar for the opening of registration next week, at 9 a.m. PT on Tuesday, April 2 at www.buildwindows.com.

At Build, we’ll share updates and talk about what’s next for Windows, Windows Server, Windows Azure, Visual Studio and more. Build is the path to creating and implementing your great ideas, and then differentiating them in the market. Pay a visit to www.buildwindows.com, get yourself registered on April 2, and join us for three days of immersive presentations delivered by the engineers behind our products and services, while networking with thousands of other developers getting the first look at what’s next. We’ll look forward to seeing you at Moscone.”


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