Windows 8.1's BYOD enhancements ready for business adoption

Windows 8.1's BYOD enhancements ready for business adoption

Summary: Microsoft understands, better than any other software company, that BYOD is actually a thing. It's a thing to be dealt with at the source, which is exactly what they're doing.


Everyone has weighed in on Microsoft's Windows 8.1 update due at the end of the month, but few have highlighted the finer points of this significant update. Personally, I see Windows 8.1 as the new business operating system for desktop computing. Microsoft has listened to its critics and has made some super improvements on its much-beleagured new operating system.

Some of the more exciting improvements come in the form of BYOD enhancements. I believe that it is these features that will propel Windows 8.x onto corporate desktop systems and out of critical oblivion.

Excerpt from Stephen L. Rose's Springboard Blog on

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. Diskdedupe 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.

Two of the more exciting enhancements in this area are the mobile device management (MDM) features and Work Folders. The MDM features will make it easier for companies to integrate user-owned Windows devices into their networks. Work Folders will obviate the need for often banned or frowned upon applications like Dropbox within corporate walls. This feature is a much needed one for companies that allow or foster BYOD scenarios. I hope that Microsoft will continue to improve upon this fledgling feature to include some advanced security and user-defined particulars.

The two dozen-ish major improvements and uncounted numbers of behind-the-scenes fixes and patches make Windows 8.1 the most significant Windows update in Microsoft's history.

Microsoft added numerous MDM features including enriched policy enforcement,  improved device management, and more integrated tools that will make both the administrative user and end user experiences better. 

I'm quite impressed with Microsoft's efforts with this significant update. Their ability to listen and move quickly with these changes proves again why Microsoft's desktop operating system is the world's runaway favorite on corporate and personal computers. The two dozen-ish major improvements and uncounted numbers of behind-the-scenes fixes and patches make Windows 8.1 the most significant Windows update in Microsoft's history.

What do you think of the upcoming Windows 8.1 update? Are you excited about Microsoft's efforts or do you think they're trying to put out a fire? Talk back and let me know.

Topics: Cloud, Microsoft, Mobility, Windows, Windows 8


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • We think Win 8.1 will be great...

    Thanks for summing up the Win 8.1 enterprise enhancements.
  • what have become

    of Ken Hess? Used to be a Linux guy... Now got a 'softie. Wow what a transformation? Good luck anyways! Hope that Jason Perlow (another "newly -wed" to MS ), Ed Bott, Mary Jo Foley are not gonna be too jealous :)
    • @eulampius

      No worries, still a Linux guy. Just admitting to myself and everyone else that interoperability and heterogeneity is really where it's at.
      • Take note fanboi's!

        This is the proper way to approach tech, sure support and use your favourite but try and at least be honest when looking at other products.
        I found the article a handy unbiased one, pointing out good points with out snipping!
        • Taking a note

          of you you being a faithful Microsoft fanboi :)
    • CNET and ZDNET have there moments

      They are CBS affiliates or well that seems to sum it up. You will get the news accord to CBS and I don't think CBS favors Linux probably(??? not really sure, would make some sense ???). Maybe it is just more fun to talk Microsoft lately. Linux has been busy just doing what it does. It is amusing that NFC, Miracast, and (in other articles)Tethering is big "News". These have all been around for awhile (at least to Linux).
    • I went from Google-Fanboy to Microsoft-Fanboy thanks to Windows 8.

      Well, you can say that Microsoft has really improved their services and devices since last year ;-)
      Agosto Nuñez
      • windows user for ever....

        Windows used to be buggy, blue screens, all sort of problems.....

        But with windows 8 Microsoft have changed it all..

        I bought the surface RT from US when it was launched, worked great, my 4 year old is been using it.

        Last week I was not able to update the tablet, called Microsoft and they picked it up from my home and will be delivering a replacement in a day or two.

        Which hardware company offers this level of service to their customers? NONE...

        great job Microsoft....
  • I'm loving it already.

    I fell inlove with Windows 8.1 (Blue) a month after Windows 8 came out, Windows 8 is an awesome O.S. and defending it so many times has often lead me to ignore the few errors it DOES have (I must ignore my Microsoft-Fandom for this post and be objective and neutral), Windows Live, Zune, Games for Windows - LIVE and Bing are greatly integrated, as is Microsoft Security Essentials (Windows Defender), but the way these services, applications and features work together is great, but most of the time most ((of/OF$) THE FORMER-)Windows Live-services + Bing's apps look more like glorified web-pages than actual apps.

    I've spoken ill of Zune in the past, and this is a certainty I can ALWAYS bring into the future, Xbox Music and Xbox Video (Zune) simply can't compare to Windows Media Player. I love and use all these programs every day, and I'm playing Xbox Music at the moment, but Windows 8.1 (Blue) brings much needed functionality, Windows 8 is Microsoft implementing EVERYTHING the competition offers into its O.S. and unifying ALL of its networks and services, this was bound to fail because these seperate things weren't made for each other.

    Windows 8.1 (Blue) makes them better, and Microsoft has had the chance to listen to our feedback. If Microsoft is smart, it'll adopt the model they wanted to have with Windows XP (add new features via Windows Update and upgade the O.S. via this service, charge after a while, and use Windows XP on desktops, laptops/notebooks, Tablet-P.C.'s, pocket-P.C.'s and mobile phones), but they need to make Windows 8.2, Windows 8.3 and possibly Windows 8.4 free untill Windows 8 is mainstream (which it is heading to, at-least in the Tablet-P.C. market, and Windows Phone's growth is impressive).

    Apple releases a new version of their operating system every year adding often only a few features and removing a lot, Microsoft is known for supporting ANCIENT software and often creating countless of new apps online (M.S.N. Windows Live & Bing), Windows 8 is were both worlds meet, it can be were Microsoft updates its software to be competitive with the newest Macintosh and the latest iPad while still using your own traditional device you bought years ago.

    Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and the Xbox One are steps in the right direction, and updates like Windows 8.1 (Blue) are KEY to being innovative and competitive. The latest software on the devices you bought earlier.
    Agosto Nuñez
    • What is this alleged "lot" that Apple keeps dropping?

      I can only think of two biggies.... X11 support and Rosetta (power pc emulation ) neither of which Windows has ever had.
  • I am not

    A fan of MS's efforts in the consumer mobile space. Their best efforts have done nothing to slow down the Apple/Android duopoly. MS continues, however, to dominate the corporate world and their enterprise offerings are first rate. The initial version of Win 8 has been widely panned, and deservedly so. It was clearly not ready for prime time. Will the new enhancements be enough to win corporate support? I don't know. If it all works as presented, it is a significant upgrade.
    • As the fourth entrant in the mobile space . . .

      . . . you can only expect so much on the first go. Windows 8 was a stake in the ground that had to be made at the time it was made. Windows 8 version 1 was good, not great. Microsoft has shown frequently that it is the 3rd release of a product that really brings things home. Windows Phone is on release 2, and it is showing a lot of momentum. Microsoft has a lot of ground to make up, but they had to get Windows 8 out the door before last holiday season, and they have to keep making significant periodic enhancements to get to critical mass. There are many things I dislike about Windows 8, particularly RT, but I don't dislike is that Microsoft had the wherewithal to leave their comfort zone (finally) and put an incredibly important stake in the ground in the mobile space. They had the luxury of Windows 8 being an interim release with Vista-like adoption. Let's see what the next two releases hold.
      • Re: you can only expect so much on the first go

        What do you mean, "first go"? Microsoft has been trying in mobile for so long: WP8, WP7, all the versions of Windows Mobile before that ... multitouch in Windows 7 ... even Windows XP was designed for tablets!

        And who can forget "Windows For Pen" from the early 1990s?

        It's like Microsoft's long track record of failure doesn't count, for some reason.
        • Fair point

          You're absolutely right. Microsoft's earlier efforts at mobile are easy to forget. Bill Gates had the vision that tablets were the future, but they never delivered on that vision, nor was Windows Mobile all that innovative. Bill Gates had the vision that your phone would be your music player, but Microsoft never delivered on that vision. You'll have to excuse me for blanking out on those early attempts. I think of WP7 as Microsoft's first serious and innovative entrance into the mobile space that actually had a chance of competing.
          • Re: I think of WP7 as Microsoft's first serious

            Even counting from there, then there was WP7.5, then Nokia coming on board, then WP8. So this is still about Microsoft's third or fourth strike out.
        • ld017, it's like you don't see the 20 years of linux failure pointed out...

          every time someone talks about Android. Or you don't hear people go on and on about Apple Pippen or Newton or their dozens of other flops or all of the software they licensed from Microsoft over the years as part of their OS.
          Why, should people be doing that?
          I think the OP was referring to the "touch" era, don't you? At least there was win mobile, while Linux had nothing during those days.
          And Apple didn't invent "touch", that goes to brilliant people from which Apple used Jobs method to paraphrase.." good artists copy, great artists steal".
          So in the modern smartphone era, the OP made a correct statement.
          • Re: it's like you don't see the 20 years of linux failure

            Linux is now the world's most popular OS.

            Not bad for a "failure", eh?
  • What, Only Windows Devices?

    Considering that the most popular devices to BYO don't run Windows, I don't think Microsoft has grasped market realities at all.
    • Hence this bullet point:

      "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 ."
      Sam Wagner
    • ld017 is only here to fling poo. Like most non-msft users....

      he doesn't have a job, and this is his hobby.
      I bet your mummy and pappy are proud of you!