Some possibly not-so-good news for business users with Windows 8

Some possibly not-so-good news for business users with Windows 8

Summary: On the plus side, business users might be able to boot straight to the Desktop in Windows 8. On the minus side, the inability for WOA tablets to join AD domains seems likely.


This just in from Group Policy Most Valuable Professional Alan Burchill: It looks like there could be a way for business users to circumvent the Windows 8 Metro start menu after all.

Burchill found this while sifting through the Consumer Preview bits:

"The 'Do not show the Start Menu when the user logs in' policy allows you to boot the OS into the more familiar desktop and not the Metro start menu. Interesting to note that booting into the desktop is also the default behaviour for Windows Server 8 so you can also use this setting on your server if you want to start them into Metro (but you prob don’t want to)."

Update: This might not be as promising as Burchill originally thought. He has amended his post to note that this setting may be a server-only thing.

While many love the tiled Metro start screen and are looking forward to using it on touch tablets and PCs, many others aren't keen on it -- especially business users who are convinced that Metro will be nothing but a nuisance, especially on non-touch-enabled hardware, and that they'll do most of their work in the Desktop app on Windows 8.

Paul Thurrott of Windows SuperSite told me a while back that he believed Microsoft would allow users to get around Metro using a group-policy setting, but when I ran that past my contacts at Microsoft, I was told this would likely not be the case. So in the end, it looks like So who knows at this point whether business users who don't want Metro may get their wish, after all.

Microsoft may share more on this topic at CeBIT in Germany, which runs March 6 to 10. At the February 29 Consumer Preview launch, Windows officials said Microsoft would talk more about Windows 8 in the enterprise at  CeBIT next week.

Update No. 2: Microsoft officials confirmed COO Kevin Turner will share more enterprise-focused Windows 8 information on March 6 during his keynote at CeBIT. No specifics yet as to what will be on the agenda.

The other big looming question that many business users want more information about is what they will and won't be able to do when it comes to managing their Windows 8 on ARM (WOA) tablets and PCs.

Microsoft posted a document for download on February 29 (not sure if intentionally or not) that outlined Consumer Preview features for business users. In that document, Microsoft corroborated word that WOA tablets won't be able to join an Active Directory domain. Some sites have reported that the document also said that Microsoft wouldn't allow WOA tablets to be managed at all using Microsoft's own management tools.

The sentence in question from the Business Consumer Preview guide:

"“Although the ARM-based version of Windows does not include the same manageability features that are in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, businesses can use these power-saving devices in unmanaged environments.”

From what I can tell -- given the Softies are declining to comment publicly on this -- it sounds like the domain prohibition is accurate, but the inability to be remotely managed via System Center may not necessarily be.

Charles Fitzgerald, a former Microsoft exec now working at VMWare, noted that the domain join limitation means Microsoft won't be able to one-up the iPad on this front. (And lack of manageability was one of the themes that Microsoft has advised its salesforce to use in selling agains the iPad in businesses.) From Fitzgerald's March 1 post:

Lack of domain join "means Windows 8 ARM tablets are going to be consumer devices that don’t integrate with the Microsoft enterprise infrastructure any better than the iPad, so Microsoft loses what should have been a major selling point. You will have to sacrifice battery life and go with x86 to get enterprise features and manageability. This is a big blow to Microsoft’s tablet proposition for the enterprise and WOA may be DOA as a result.

I'll be interested to hear Microsoft's explanation as to why domain join is out for WOA tablets if and when they share it....

Update No. 3: Since last night when I posted this, a number of my chums on Twitter have wondered whether the reason Microsoft might be cutting domain join for WOA has to do with licensing. The thinking is Microsoft may want to try to charge users who need domain join more or to require them to move to a higher end SKU. I have no idea if this is the case. I've also seen others note that WOA tablets still will likely be managed via Exchange Active Sync (EAS) -- which is basically what the case is with iPads, I believe.

Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • The WOA is for consumers part is true from what Ive read.

    The minority of business users that have employers that want to buy them tablets should get x64 tablets. The myth that x64 tablets will have lower battery life should be ignored.
    Johnny Vegas
    • You are forgetting about the battery weight penalty

      I'm sure a Intel based Win 8 slate can be made to function for 10 hours or more between charges. The question is, will those slates require user replaceable batteries (a nuisance) or more battery volume which, of course, means a heavier tablet weight.
    • A myth?

      [i]The myth that x64 tablets will have lower battery life should be ignored.[/i]

      Prove it.
      • Just pay attention to what Intel is doing with their 22nm chips

        Their 3D gate design will have a significant impact on battery life. Add to that an OS architecture that is simpler and you have something that will genuinely compete with ARM. Next is 14 nm, and you know what that will do.

        Intel is not just going to go quietly into the night.

        Remember, Win phone 8 Apollo will be coming along and will be a dead up match for WOA (iMHO).

        All of this said, I am not convinced that MSFT will be able to hold the stance of no WOA on AD. I think it will cause major IT bitch fits (as my daughter would say).
      • @dcristof that's interesting that you say that...

        ...but I still like to see some [b]real world[/b] tests and those haven't happened yet for Win8 tablets. Especially with resource-hogs like Flash running in the background.

        You know the old saying; If it's too good to be true, it probably is.
      • Myths should always be ignored.

        Wait for facts
    • Should read:

      The myth that Johnny Vegas is not a Microsoft troll should be ignored.
    • Yeah, from what it sounds like, WOA is basically....

      ...Windows Phone blown up to a tablet, sort of like iOS and the iPad. I always suspected as much.

      Cest la vie, it is what it is. There's always regular Windows on PCs/laptops for power users, I guess.
  • So why deploy?

    If businesses set a policy to login direct to desktop, then why bother spending time/money to deploy win8 in the first place? It's just a UI that sits on top of win7 and comes with headaches of learning how to use it.
    • Exactly

      There is no reason to move from Windows 7 if they have it already..this is just Windows 7 with a shiny wrapper.
      • Untrue

        They have done quite a bit of under the hood tweaking. Even when working in the Desktop environment you will likely get better battery life, have the advantage of Storage Spaces, etc. There are reasons to use Windows 8, despite your apparent dislike for it.
      • Untrue?

        What tweaking?
      • Untrue?

        That remains to be seen
      • It's not Win7

        To be fair, every release of windows gets tweaked.

        But the tweaks are major in this case. Just because it looks like Windows 7 doesn't mean it is. The difference between Win7 and Win 8 from an internal software architecture stand point is huge.

        It retires Win32/64 in favor of WinRT (their new base-level APIs designed and optimized to run on modern PC with different CPUs in mind)

        Win32 was released in 1995 with Windows 95. Windows 7 is running on this fundamental core technology. Do the math on how long Windows has been running on internal software designed for PCs that were introduced nearly 20 years ago. Hardware and how we get our data has changed a lot since. The core OS software supporting it until now, hasn't changed very much at all aside from the occasional patch and band-aid to enable access to the changes...

        This is probably both an exciting and scary prospect at Microsoft. It's very high risk both in terms of customer acceptance as well as the nuances and bugs associated with the start of software's life cycle.

        There's a reason why they're releasing consumer/developer previews. It's cheap, effective beta testing.
      • Tweaking...or minor overhaul.

        If you really want to know all the changes, I suggest you read the Building Windows 8 blog. There are tons of enhancements to "core" windows. Support for USB 3.0, better file transfers, storage spaces, reduced cpu and memory requirements, improved connectivity and speed for wi-fi, better accessibility, windows to-go on usb, picture password, better battery life/power management, better multi-monitor support, hyper-V virtualization, and a ton of other things...go and read about it. It is very good.
      • Agreed: Why spend millions with no gain to show?

        This is what I've been saying also. Companies don't move to a new OS version just because it's there. If there is no business justification to move up, it won't happen.
      • Not really

        Per my own testing, Windows 8 stomps all over windows 7 in terms of performance. The only thing I take exception with is how it performs restarts, but I can get used to shutdown -> boot easily enough if it does so in less than 8 seconds, like it does on my sager p150hn. That's including POST mind you.
      • Not

        No the NTFS is different, the Registry is Different, and all key components are redesigned. Only the Developer edition was much truer to 7 because with it you can keep Aero, and Classic desktop. From the first Consumer release that was removed and set to crash should you try to circumvent the once called Metro Desktop.

        Te real problem is companies who finally invested into Windows 7 and moved to that didn't have to train people to use it differently then XP. How ever now it will be a total pain. Even in Windows 95 the default Start was bottom left which has been the same.
    • There are some Enterprise features that are welcomed

      To be honest, I understand how you may feel, but I think features like Refresh, and Reset, private cloud, no difference between a tablet, laptop, and desktop from our standpoint, and a private SharePoint App store may be enough reasons to adopt the OS on an Enterprise scale. I can't tell you how much time would be saved if we could just Refresh a PC instead of reloading it from a base image and remotely deploying the necessary apps. It alone will make our lives easier and save us from ID:10T/K2C errors. We'll have to wait to see the final set of services and features that will be in the GA version, but Refresh alone will save us from constantly swapping PCs or reloading them.
    • Win8 changes that don't have the word METRO

      The list of new features is large, but most of these are not part of the UI:
      - Baked in USB3
      - Storage Spaces feature
      - New File System (although that's probably server only at this point)
      - MUCH MUCH Improved file transfer modal
      - MUCH MUCH Improved file collision rules
      - Improved Bit Locker and AppLocker (HUGE deal in Enterprises)
      - The usual tweaks for performance and security
      - Possible a new media experience (dumping WMP and Zune in favor of a single player)

      If Win7 to Win8 sees half the imrovement in performance and stability as we saw from Vista to Win7, then the upgrade should be considered.