Microsoft Windows chief Steven Sinofsky opened his pitch at Mobile World Conference (MWC) on Wednesday by noting that "the last time we made a generational change was Windows 95". Consumer hype aside, what's in Windows 8 for enterprise users?
Steven Sinofsky at Microsoft's Windows 8 consumer preview event.
Nothing like a big dose of hype to kick off a big product announcement. To be fair to Microsoft, however, this was an important event, as Windows 8 is being touted as nothing less than a touch-friendly "re-imagining" of Windows. But while the spotlight obviously focused on what the new OS will offer consumers, Microsoft also used the occasion to make a quiet pitch to the ICT community.
In a preview product guide for business, Microsoft promoted Windows 8 as a bridge between consumer users and enterprise professionals seeking a more secure and manageable operating system. In the days and weeks ahead, business users will get an opportunity to test the system against the bold promises. But, in the meantime, here are some of the highlights of what Microsoft says they can expect.
Will ICT administrators be able to kiss their virtual private networks goodbye? The DirectAccess feature lets remote users access the full complement of internal corporate resources without needing a separate connection. No word yet on encryption, so this offer raises the obvious security questions, and will likely need further investigation.
Business app development
Managers can centrally manage, update and distribute Windows 8 apps created in an enterprise, and they can stay within the corporate firewall. Microsoft also promised that a majority of existing line-of-business applications that ran on Windows 7 will also work on Windows 8 (32-bit and 64-bit versions).
Scalability starting with tablets
Both 32-bit and 64-bit tablet computers running Windows 8 will integrate into a company's existing ICT management infrastructure. Assuming that Microsoft makes good on that promise, it gets rid of an administrative headache, allowing the company to deal with tablets in the same way that it manages desktops and laptops within the rest of an enterprise.
Keeping data safe
Playing up Windows 8 as a way to keep corporate data safe, a Windows To Go USB drive will remain active for the duration of a contractor's employment — the goal being to ensure that no corporate data gets stored on a personal device. Windows To Go Drives can also be issued to employees working outside of the office. After Windows 8 users insert their cards into a Windows 7- or Windows 8-compatible PC and reboot, they get their entire personal environment and operate as a fully managed device. After the card gets removed, they can move on and use it on another PC.
BitLocker drive encryption
Speaking of security, I'll say this about Microsoft: it's figured out the sheet music that is going to resonate with IT. Microsoft says that the latest version of BitLocker is faster and more secure, and works without causing interruptions. BitLocker comes with support for encrypted hard-disk drives, which come pre-encrypted from the manufacturer. One cool feature here is the ability of an IT administrator to selectively encrypt individual directories instead of entire drives. As free space gets used, Microsoft says, it will be encrypted.
Built-in HyperV integration
Microsoft has streamlined the overhead needed to run virtual machines. Rather than requiring a separate PC for each configuration, Microsoft says ICT will be able to conduct development and testing of several app configurations and operating systems on a single device. If it works as advertised, that could save time and money.
Windows 8 natively supports 3G and 4G telecommunications, and allows data metering. Costs are kept low with built-in mobile broadband metering. Windows 8 also allows remote users to access files cached at headquarters, but still access the content locally.
Via ZDNet US