Windows 8.1 is ready for business.
In this article I’ll show you ten business centric features that Microsoft is planning to launch in Windows 8.1 later this month. There are some exciting changes on the horizon. Let’s jump in:
Today, Iain McDonald, Partner Director of Microsoft, announced new business features coming to Windows 8.1. The keynote is over two and a half hours long and contains information about Windows Azure, Visual Studio, and Cloud Technologies; however, the Windows 8 section starts at 00:11:11 with Iain McDonald’s demonstration on the latest Windows 8.1 features. He showed off a group policy update to a Windows 8.1 client and a few other things like the latest OEM devices coming out this fall. His demonstration is about 18 minutes.
At 00:39:00, Molly Brown, Principal Development Lead, talks about SharePoint and the new Workplace Join feature. This let’s users work from the devices they want. like their personal devices, but still keeps IT in control. Microsoft refers to it as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).
Also, Windows 8.1 inaugurates two factor authentication when joining a personal device to Active Directory (AD). With a Windows Azure backend, Windows actually displays a challenge saying that it needed to call Molly’s phone to finalize the Workplace Join process. It’s pretty neat to see it in action starting at 00:40:10.
Brown also showed off Windows Intune cloud management services so IT can manage the device by pushing down corporate applications to end users.
The coolest part is a new feature known as Selective Wipe. This gives users the ability to leave the Workspace at any time by clicking “Leave” in PC Settings > Network > Workplace.
All corporate data are wiped but personal files remain completely untouched.
This is great for security because IT manages the policies applied to joined devices. It also improves usability because people want the flexibility to join and unjoin the Workplace whenever they want.
Erwin Visser, Senior Director of the Windows Division at Microsoft, summarized the Windows 8.1 improvements for business. It really breaks down to four things:
- Wireless Innovation
- BYOD Management
Tap-to-print. You just buy sticky NFC tags that you slap onto your existing printers. Then tap your Windows 8.1 device against the tag to automatically install the printer drivers.
In addition, with Miracast, compatible devices can wirelessly project content to other Miracast devices. Broadband tethering turns your Windows 8.1 device into a mobile hotspot and Work Folders automatically copies files stored in the corporate network’s \Users folder to the users local \Users folder. This means that users keep all their files on their individual devices and any changes automatically copy and update to your corporate network.
Biometric devices gain new support and network anomaly detection integrated into Windows Defender. Windows 8.1 can now establish a baseline of normal behavior and then trigger alerts when behavior deviates from those established baselines.
VPN has been revamped too. Certain apps now automatically start VPN connections when you click them thus making it super easy for teleworkers to access the network.
In addition, device encryption is now enabled by default with Microsoft Accounts.
The bottom line is that more and more people are bringing their own devices to work and want to use them to access company resources. Windows 8.1 is ready out-of-the-box to tackle this challenge. As I mentioned above, with Selective Wipe, only corporate assets are removed. Also, new Group Policy rules let IT professionals lock down the Start Screen with laser precision. You can now determine the tile layout and choose which Apps your users see.
Furthermore, Windows 8.1 gains support for devices that function as ATMs, digital signs, or other systems that should have a single App open at all times. Finally, boot-to-desktop is here and will most likely be configuration through Group Policy.
In conclusion, Windows 8.1 Preview is now a strong contender for business use. Given that Windows 8.1 has a litany of business ready features such as:
- Broadband Tethering
- Workplace Joins
- Work Folders
- New Biometric Support
- Windows Defender Anomaly Detection
- Integrated VPN
- Selective Wipe
- Boot to Desktop
I think it is more than ready for business use. I’m excited for June 26th.