Jun 15, 2012

What new features does Windows 8 offer for enterprise users?

I haven't had the chance to really look into Windows 8 yet, but its release if rapidly approaching. We are still heavily dependent on Windows XP (I know, I know), and it seems like there is finally agreement that it is time for an update. Is Windows 8 an enterprise focused OS, or is it more of a Vista? Despite the downsides of running an OS that is nearing the age where it could drive a car, it has the benefit of being EXTREMELY familiar to both IT staff and the average employee. After years of nagging about upgrading, I am a little embarrassed to realize that I appreciate the familiarity of XP and have some trepidation about switching over. I know the world has moved on since XP came out, but I still have to wonder - is Windows 8 a good choice for enterprise users?

Here's an article that covers some of the Windows 8 Enterprise features:

Introducing Windows 8 Enterprise and Enhanced Software Assurance for Today’s Modern Workforce

"Windows 8 Enterprise features include all the capabilities that customers get with Windows 8 Pro (as outlined in Monday’s blog), plus premium features designed to provide the mobile productivity, security, manageability and virtualization needs of today’s businesses. Here’s an overview of some of the key features that will be available exclusively to Windows 8 Enterprise customers (and note this is not an exhaustive list):

Windows To Go is a fully manageable corporate Windows 8 desktop on a bootable external USB stick. This will allow IT organizations to support the “Bring Your Own PC” trend and businesses can give contingent staff access to the corporate environment without compromising security.

DirectAccess allows remote users to seamlessly access resources inside a corporate network without having to launch a separate VPN and helps IT administrators keep remote users’ PCs in compliance by applying the latest policies, software updates, is easier to deploy, and it can be implemented with the existing IPv4 infrastructure.

BranchCache allows users’ PCs to cache files, websites, and other content from central servers, so content is not repeatedly downloaded across the wide area network (WAN). When used with Windows Server 2012, Windows 8 brings several improvements to BranchCache to streamline the deployment process, optimize bandwidth over WAN connections and ensure better security and scalabilty.

AppLocker can help mitigate issues by restricting the files and apps that users or groups are allowed to run.

VDI enhancements: Enhancements in Microsoft RemoteFX and Windows Server 2012, provide users with a rich desktop experience with the ability to play 3D graphics, use USB peripherals and use touch-enabled devices across any type of network (LAN or WAN) for VDI scenarios.
New Windows 8 App Deployment: Domain joined PCs and tablets running Windows 8 Enterprise will automatically be enabled to side-load internal, Windows 8 Metro style apps.

In addition to these features, customers will get improvements to the fundamentals, including end-to-end security and better manageability. Businesses will also benefit from the immersive, personalized experience Windows 8 has to offer and the no-compromise business tablet that will mean businesses no longer have to choose between the functionality of a tablet or the productivity of a PC."

I think that it remains to be seen exactly.  It know that MicroSoft is releasing 4 distinct editions, including "Windows Enterprise".  I'm not certain what exactly is new about Windows 8 Enterprise, but according to Microsoft's press release, it has everything that the other versions offer, "plus features for IT organization that enable PC management and deployment, advanced security, virtualization, new mobility scenarios, and much more." 

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