Windows 8 tablets: Not open for business

Windows 8 tablets: Not open for business

Summary: I'd thought Windows 8 tablets one shot at the business market because IT administrators could deploy and manage them with Active Directory. Guess what? They're not supporting Active Directory on them.


Microsoft has adopted a Wile E. Coyote approach to Windows 8 tablet management.

Microsoft has adopted a Wile E. Coyote approach to Windows 8 tablet management.

I think Windows 8 is doomed to failed on the desktop. But,  much as I dislike Windows 8 and its Metro interface, I thought it had a chance on the business tablet. Oh, forget about Intel and Microsoft's dream that the first wave of Windows 8 tablets will push the iPad’s global market share to below 50 percent by mid-2013. That's not happening. But, Metro's designed for tablet-sized displays and, I presumed, IT would be able to deploy and manage them with their existing Active Directory (AD) tools. Guess what? Microsoft won't be supporting AD on Windows 8 on ARM (WOA).

When I first heard that Microsoft wasn't enabling AD on Windows RT--the ARM-specific version of Windows 8--I thought there must be some kind of mistake. AD isn't just a directory service, it's the heart of business Windows authentication, authorization, security, and management. Every Windows system administrator, since Windows NT's domain system was put out to pasture, knows AD. It's what they use, just for starters, for:

    Adding new users to Active Directory Changing passwords Granting rights to file servers Allowing remote access to the network Setting login and logout scripts Controlling when users can use the network Creating security groups - with either static or dynamic membership

You don't need to be a system administrator to get why little things like that might just be important for your business. Heck I use AD all the time to manage the Windows side of my networks and I use Linux everywhere I can!

So, how the heck will you mange them then? Well, Microsoft seems a little confused on this point. For Windows 8 on x86/x64 tablets you'll use System Center Configuration Manager and Windows Intune. Windows RT? We don't know. We think it will be Intune, but we don't know.“Intune?” You ask, “What the heck is Intune?”

First, it's not a mis-spelling of Apple's iTune. Intune is a cloud-based Windows security and management service. Eric Main, director of product marketing for Windows Intune, says the the next version of Intune, which will be Windows 8 compatible, will “cost $11 U.S. per PC, per month," with an additional "four mobile devices per seat.”

So, let's put this all together. You can't use the same AD tools you've used for over a decade to run Windows on Windows 8 tablets. Instead, you'll need to learn, pay, and use an additional management program. Oh, and by the way, this is a Microsoft cloud-based service so I hope you're comfortable with managing part of your infrastructure on the cloud, because that's the only way you can do it.

My writer colleague Gregg Keizer asked some experts what they made of Microsoft's new management tools for Windows RT and they were unimpressed. Michael Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, said, "Unless someone has an absolute need to run Office locally [on a tablet], there's no more value to Windows RT than there is to an iPad, which at least is a known quantity.” The more we learn about RT, said Michael Silver, a Gartner Microsoft analyst, the “fewer and fewer organizations will be looking at WOA." I can well believe that.

That's not me, the guy who doesn't care a bit for Windows 8, saying these things. This is people whose work lives are spent covering Microsoft talking.

I really don't get it. I don't think Windows RT tablets have any chance of winning consumers with fat wallets away from the iPad. I also don't think Microsoft tablets have much of a shot against the Android tablets at the lower price points.

What I did think, though, was that Microsoft would have a decent chance at getting IT departments into buying them for their users to avoid the “bring your own device (BYOD)” management headaches that comes with users bringing in their own tablets. I may not like what I've seen on Windows 8, but I could see Windows RT tablets with AD integration making good solid business sense for companies that were deeply invested in Windows.

Oh well.

In the first version of this story I included a clause stating that x86 tablets wouldn't have AD support. That was an error. Only Win RT tablets won't include AD support.--sjvn

Related Stories:

What will it mean to 'manage' Windows on ARM tablets?

Microsoft's Windows 8 consumer and Windows RT editions: What's missing?

Windows 8: Fragmentation of the hardware ecosystem is inevitable

Microsoft opens April beta of Windows Intune service to testers

Five Reasons why Windows 8 will be dead on arrival

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

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  • Absolute Nonsense

    No fair minded person should even bother to read this article unless you are a declared microsoft hater with myopic knowledge about modern day computing for consumers and business use.
    • Your basis for that assertion would be...?

      Usually when you make such critical assertions about the validity of an article, you at least give some sort of explanation for it, but you don't.

      I for one share in the frustration with Microsoft's decision not to include AD or Group Policy support in WOA, because I work in enterprise IT at a company where PCI compliance is a concern. This same company also recently gave all of its employees a personal allowance for a mobile device, whether it be a tablet or a smartphone, and now we're faced with the issue of mobile device management.

      It's not that it's impossible to allow access to certain internal resources on these devices in a secure fashion, but it's frustrating in a large environment when management of these devices is either decentralized, or as in this instance, will require us to start paying a per device monthly fee for a hosted solution even though we have the hardware resources to host a management solution internally. We have existing infrastructure in place for management of other MS products, and I think that MS could start winning the tablet war in the enterprise if they would actually integrate it into its existing ecosystem.

      I thought the point of forcing Metro down desktop users throats was to unify the environment, but MS keeps coming out with news about all of the diminished features that WOA will have. Some of these missing features are understandable, I can live without the desktop on a tablet for instance, but decisions like this one make no sense if they want to find a market for their tablet offerings.

      FYI: I'm not an MS hater, I use Windows as my primary OS, and think that Windows 7 is the best out there that suits my needs in both my work and personal life. I also like, to quote from Apple, that Windows "Just works" for enterprise IT.

      edit: As other users have stated, I would like to see a source for the claim about x86/64 tablets not having AD support. That seems far fetched enough to warrant a citation.
      • The basis for his assertion is obvious

        Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wrote the article. As a growing number of people have started to point out, he does not write objective blogs, instead a myopic view of what he believe things to be, for no other benefit then to get readers to post.

        It may be true that many of those posts are in opposition to his view, but they pay him, and ZDNet the same, regardless.

        Is that not what these sites are intended to do?
        Tim Cook
      • It was lost on me then.

        The point is to read this article and discuss it, and the validity of the points and supporting arguments made within this particular article, not the validity of the collective arguments of the writer's career.

        I also don't believe that the point of a blog is necessarily objective journalism, and I think that this article has merit when viewed through the lens of an opinion piece. The author states his personal bias, and even goes so far as to tout the features of the product that he's biased against that have value to him. I'm not saying that there's no room for disagreement, but the author did do well when discussing his opinion. From my perspective, the value of a blog is as a forum for discussion of opinions on certain subjects.

        If you disagree with the author, there's more value to me as a reader when you present your reasons for disagreeing with the points outlined in a particular article rather than resorting to ad hominem attacks; by doing so you actually contribute to the knowledge of the community by providing new information or a previously unconsidered perspective. Even if you don't convert me, I'll still come away more informed than before.

        I do read a fair amount of ZDNet articles, and I don't think I've come across any writers that don't have their own biases and opinions that come through when writing their articles. It's not like FOX news though, they're not claiming to be "Fair and Balanced" while spewing propaganda; the writers here are usually pretty up front about their biases which allows readers to take the articles with the appropriate grain of salt.
      • You need to suffer through reading SJVN some more

        Don't get hung up about this particular article. It's just one in a long line of anti-MS diatribes that SJVN has been providing for some time. They are rarely accurate and are always concocted to predict a sad future for MS.

        As some bloggers have already posted, AD is already usable on x86 tablets running the consumer preview, so SJVN is wrong - again. This is also about management, not a particular method and if MS wants to move forward with cloud based systems they why not?

        The least charitable explanation of why these articles keep appearing is that SJVN needs the money (as bloggers are paid by the number of posts).
      • this article

        sir you are an idiot.
      • Microsoft does not want the enterprise to buy Windows RT tablets ...

        ... any more than they want the enterprise to buy consumer notebooks.

        Microsoft wants the enterprise to buy Windows 8 Enterprise deployed in Intel-based tablets and notebooks as well as desktops.
        M Wagner
      • mwagner@ "Microsoft wants the enterprise to buy..."


        "Microsoft wants the enterprise to buy..."

        Microsoft would do better to sell what people (and Enterprises) want to buy, rather than expecting people to buy what Microsoft wants than to buy.

        Unfortunately, that little nugget of wisdom is still lost on Microsoft.
    • I took your advice

      and got 3 sentences in to it and then skipped over the rest. In those 3 sentences I knew this article was full of crap so I skipped over it. Never mind that every paragraph has at least 2 links in them making it more annoying to read.
      Loverock Davidson-
      • You got three sentences in?

        Given your own biases, I'm shocked that you read it at all.
        John L. Ries
    • It really is nonsense

      Besides, it makes more sense to deploy i5 based tablets like Samsungs than something with a smart phone microprocessor.
      Schoolboy Bob
      • More likely Lenovo or another

        Samsung is not generally an enterprise line as they are not really part of the current supply line infrastructure.
    • Steven J never lets the truth get in the way of a good story

      I'm not sure who at ZDnet green lights articles but you need to start paying closer attention to SJVN's articles. His biased, sensationalist and sometimes plain slanderous journalism is a better fit for trashy magazines and is out of place in intelligent discussions.
    • explain your self fool

      Only fools open their mouth using Straw Man fallacies.
  • Yikes

    Someone please fire this guy.
    • He is absolutely unbelievable

      Hasn't this guy heard of Windows 8 Pro running on x86/x64 tablets / convertibles? These devices will be able to be managed by Active Directory, and will be preferred by companies over Windows RT devices, because they'll be able to run Windows desktop apps - including legacy line of business apps. Support for Windows RT, is primarily for people who would like to bring their Windows RT devices to work - it is not so much for companies that would like to buy their employees tablets. Companies that would like to buy their employees tablets, should look at devices running Windows 8 Pro.
      P. Douglas
      • Windows 8 Pro already released?

        Come on, you don't claim to have an released copy of Windows 8 Pro, do you???

        Promises are promises, and if we talk about promises, then Microsoft certainly promised there will be no AD on WOA. That simple. Of course, they may bend over and actually include it, in an "Service Pack", because otherwise, indeed the WOA is just dead for the enterprises.

        Even if you say that Windows RT is not mainstream for Microsoft, then why bother with these tablets at all? They won't impress anyone who has seen the iPad feature wise etc, and they certainly will not impress anyone who looks for the cheap, because there will be always way cheaper Android tablets that will do all what Windows RT can do, and then much more.

        Integrating WOA tablets with the enterprise offerings by Microsoft is what could sell them. No external hosting solutions, but enterprise internal infrastructure.

        Considering, that Windows RT is the future code base for Windows, I find it hard to believe that it won't support AD anymore --- effectively telling all those enterprises that they have invested in Microsoft technology in vain.
      • danbi, how old are you?

        <i>"they certainly will not impress anyone who looks for the cheap, because there will be always way cheaper Android tablets that will do all what Windows RT can do, and then much more."
        So you think your opinion is really something don't ya? Wow and where did you glean this oh so elegantly written information? Hmmm? Can you please point to the resouces you read carefully and with great insight to determine this?
        LOL. Oh my, the ABM crowd just makes me laugh day in and day out. they never fail. I'm sorry, this is not meant to be a personal attack by any means, I'm just questioning everything this guy has written.
        Somehow when MSFT is the topic, the Linux zealots or the Apple cult gets fired up, like a person who is insanely jealous of something or someone does and I can't help to find it hilarious. I'm betting that if this were replied to, I woudl hear this person wonder how he could be "jealous" of such awful software as that from MSFT.
        Yet, he can't ever stop talking about it!!

        You have no idea what win8 is bringing to the table.
  • Windows 8 about hybird Ultrabooks w/ flip touchscreen

    that will do the job of notebook&Tablet
  • Funny, I'm running a Windows 8 tablet with active directory right now.

    This guy is an idiot and should be fired, there's nothing in his article that is true.
    Well, actually, I guess there's a *slight* sliver of truth here - Arm based windows 8 tablets won't have AD support on day one. However, Intel based tablets running Windows 8 do have AD support. I know, because my Samsung Build tablet is running Windows 8 and is joined to my company's AD right now.

    Businesses that want windows 8 AD tablets will simply buy Intel tablets and enjoy all the benefits of AD. See, it's called choice Steven - go and look up the facts before you diss on something you clearly know nothing about....