Windows 8.1 preview: Guidance for enterprise users

Windows 8.1 preview: Guidance for enterprise users

Summary: Microsoft releases a few new Windows 8.1 tools for enterprise users ahead of delivering the Windows 8.1 Enterprise preview bits.


As many Windows users are well aware, Microsoft made available for download last week a public customer preview of Windows 8.1.

But what about those wanting/needing Windows 8.1 Enterprise, the version of Windows 8.1 that -- like its Windows 8 predecessor -- will be available to those with enterprise volume licensing agreements with Microsoft?

The Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview isn't available to testers yet. Microsoft officials are saying that it will be "in the coming weeks."

Once the Enterprise preview is available, users running Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Pro with Media Center and Windows 8 Enterprise will be able to move to it, according to an article on TechNet.

As Microsoft officials disclosed previously, Windows RT and Windows 8 users who opt to test the 8.1 preview should expect they will have to reinstall their applications (both Metro-Style and Win32 ones) when moving to the final build of 8.1 later this summer/fall once it has been released to manufacturing.  

Here's Microsoft's reminder, from a posting on the Springboard Series blog, about that fact:


Microsoft also released late last week some other enterprise-focused tools that may help those installing the Windows 8.1 preview:

In other public preview news, Microsoft also made available recently a preview of its Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials small-business server and the Windows Server Essentials Experience server role for the Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard and Datacenter edition. (The new server role runs in a virtual machine on Windows Azure.) The Server 2012 R2 Essentials server can be downloaded here.

Update: Microsoft already has released a few updates to the existing Windows 8.1 preview, as Windows Observer blogger Richard Hay noted on July 2. These address some app compatibility issues, but do not address the XAML touch-scrolling problems that more than a few testers have encountered (and as detailed by istartedsomething's Long Zheng.)

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, IT Policies


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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  • No AppLocker in Pro (but no Ultimate either)

    I just saw this in a forum: Windows 8.1 Pro does not include AppLocker, you have to get Enterprise. But there is no Ultimate version, which means home and SMB users can't realistically get AppLocker either. Doesn't Microsoft realize that this simply pushes more people towards Bit9 Parity and other similar products? BitLocker is available in Pro, so why not AppLocker? Enabling AppLocker in the Pro version would require about 10 minutes of time to flip a variable in a source code file at Microsoft...
    • Only IT Pros...

      ...know what AppLocker is, and real IT pros volume license Enterprise.
      • On the shoes of SMBs

        I think you're supposed to spit chewing tobacco when you say that, I saw it in Blazing Saddles.
    • What kind of organization needs AppLocker but doesn't buy Enterprise?

      I'm just curious.
    • Applocker

      What good is applocker without an enterprise agreement? With the EA you get access to Win8 Enterprise.
  • The advice... both shockingly obvious, since it follows suit with all previous releases. And yet, I'm very disappointed about the inability to update from Preview to Final. I don't know why, because I know it's a bad idea, and I don't advocate "upgrade" installs, but I'm being selfish about the 2-3 days it will take me to rebuild my Surface Pro from scratch with 8.1 upon final release.

    I'd like to say I'll do the right thing and wait for the weekend after launch to install the final, so I can have more attention to devote over the weekend, but I know I'll be downloading at work and installing before I've even left the office... probably on a Tuesday, because it always feels like they release this stuff on a Tuesday (no statistical facts there). So really, the best I can hope for is a slow week, so that my lack of productivity won't cause anyone grief.
    • Do what I did when "upgrading" from the Win8 beta to the gold release

      Before installing the beta, I imaged my box (using the Win7 disk image backup tools - which are still there, I think). Then I installed the beta and used it for months. When the gold release came out, I backed up all my data, rolled the box back to the Win7 image, upgraded to Win8 and then restored my data. It was complicated, but I did it with the laptop on the couch beside me while watching TV. It actually didn't take that long.
      • Very clever

        Excellent decision to make considering the hassle reinstalling all your programs.
  • MY guidance for enterprise users

    Let Windows 8 stew a few years longer, or skip it altogether. So far, we have found no material benefit to rolling out Win8, but substantial additional costs and training issues.
    terry flores
    • The post here yet

      Avoid this nonsense altogether.
    • The real cost...

      In my professional opinion as an IT pro, it's better to license for Windows 8 with new systems now and exercise your downgrade rights to Windows 7 until you're ready to train for Windows 8/8.1. Keep in mind that Microsoft has already announced that 8->8.1 is a free upgrade, so 8.1 (and potentially 8.2) will be the platforms to upgrade from Windows 7 clients going forward. At this point, I fully agree with skipping Windows 8 in favor of what's ahead.

      (And for the benefit of other readers, I know terry is one of the anti-MS trolls here, but I prefer to post sensible advice to real readers.)
      • As I understand it

        The W7 'upgrade' from W8 is only available in Windows 8 pro. Most systems sell with the home version ...
        • Enterprise users, that's the topic here.

          Home users really don't have much choice except to purchase Win8 with a new PC, but the landscape is completely different for enterprise customers. Windows 8 Pro is the default, and our IT group actually provides the (Win7) images used to build our Dell and Lenovo PCs.
          terry flores
      • Anti-MS? Say it isn't so!

        But I am anti-wasting-money. And I am *completely* anti-changing-things-and-confusing-the-end-users. So many people in IT departments forget that the end-users are the ones who really determine what's needed and what they are willing to pay for. If you went to the Ford dealer and found they had moved all of the controls around on their cars just because they felt like it, I doubt that you would be so eager to learn stuff all over again. Normal people want IT to just work and stay out of their way.
        terry flores
        • So True....

          Show them the good stuff and keep it easy.....
        • Well your example of cars isn't

          a good one as cars have moved to blue tooth, GPS and Media screens replacing radios and CD players. USB slots to play music. Cars like computers are moving to new techologies and leaving the old ones behind. The enterprise will have less training for windows 8 then home users as the application the enterprise programs aren't changing yet. The only thing changing is how they are launched (which can be controlled by IT). My organization has little concern over training compared to application compatibility. We will buy window 8/8.1 machines and install Windows 7 images. Our concern is not allowing users to do thing witht the OS. I'm sure we will turn off the Windows store compeltely for users (If we can) and use SMS to do software installs.
      • The real cost

        Thanks GoodThings, I appreciate your comments.
    • Stick with odd numbered releases. Wait for 9 or 11.

      8.1 won't even provide that missing benefit. It'll maybe remove some of the issues, or change them a bit.

      Come back in 3 years and XP and 7 will still be the main body of Windows use.

      Microsoft had it made. All they needed to do was to not screw up. But 9 times out of 10, that is beyond them.
      Henry 3 Dogg
      • XP

        So true!
        Whenever I watch documentaries and there's an office shot, you know where the person is giving an interview, the computer always has the floating Win XP Pro Logo screen saver going on.
      • odd numbers

        Okay. I have lost count. 3 was 3. 3.1 was still 3. NT was officially 4. 95 was 5. 98 was 6. 98SE was 6.5. Me was 7. XP was 8. Vista was 9. 7 was 10. And 8 was 11. So keep 8?