Windows 8 Release Preview: Enterprise Features Worth Evaluating

For CIOs deploying Windows 7, the Windows 8 Release Preview may be an afterthought. But tablet-friendly Windows 8 delivers security, networking and mobile features that enterprise IT should test now to implement later.

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Wed, June 06, 2012

CIO — The Windows 8 Release Preview, available as of May 31, is one of the last steps before the new OS launches "for the holidays", to quote a company blog post by Windows president Steven Sinofsky.

If past Windows release dates are any indication, Windows 8 will launch in October.

The Release Preview comes with new features and functions for the new Metro user interface, including the ability to more easily group tiles and apps on the Start screen and pin subsections of an app  such as a stock ticker from the Finance app  to the Start screen as well.

The Release Preview has also brought more sports, travel and news apps from both Microsoft and its partners to the updated Windows App Store. Additionally, the Metro version of Internet Explorer 10 has been tweaked in the Windows 8 Release Preview with an integrated touch-friendly Adobe Flash Player and the "do not track" privacy setting in IE10 has been turned on by default.

This is all well and good for consumers, but what about the enterprise? Windows 8 in general, whether it's running on x86 chips from Intel and AMD or on ARM-based processors, is considered to be targeted at consumers. After all, Microsoft is adjusting to a world where consumers (employees) are using their own tablets and smartphones, mobile apps and virtualization technologies for work purposes.

So does Windows 8 have a place in the enterprise?

For the time being, Windows 7 remains the stable and well-liked OS being deployed at enterprise-level companies, and Windows 8 will be hard-pressed to directly compete with it, say industry analysts.

Nevertheless, Windows 8 delivers security, networking and mobile features for a wider range of devices deeming it something IT pros and business users should evaluate now to implement later.

Windows to Go

This new feature allows the entire Windows 8 OS to run on any Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 desktop from a USB flash drive or external USB Hard Drive.

Once the Windows 8 system is booted from the USB stick, it is managed and secured by standard enterprise management tools such as SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) and Active Directory group policies. The best use case for Windows to Go is for contract workers or freelance employees who need access to the OS and apps, but not all of the permissions relegated to full-time employees.

Windows to Go is also a good way to evaluate Windows 8 on your PC without eradicating your current operating system.

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