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
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Here are details on how to create a Windows to Go USB drive.

Security and Networking Features

Microsoft has been emphasizing the security features baked into Windows 8 to contrast the somewhat security-challenged Android and iOS and to underscore Microsoft depth as an enterprise vendor.

Some new Windows 8 security features include Trusted Boot, which prevents malware from creeping in during boot ups and before any of the OS components are launched.

Microsoft has also improved BitLocker drive encryption in Windows 8 so that it encrypts only parts of the disk drive that need it, thereby speeding up the process and worker productivity. By default in the Windows 8 Release Preview, users will be able to change the BitLocker PINs and passwords for the first time and help reduce IT help desk calls for lost PINs.

Security policy feature AppLocker has improved in Windows 8 to protect users from running unauthorized software that could lead to malware infections.

On the networking side, Windows 8 includes improvements to DirectAccess, a mobile access technology and VPN replacement introduced in Windows 7 and Branch Cache, a technology that saves bandwidth by speeding up the access of remote files stored on a corporate network. Windows 8 also has built-in mobile broadband features that natively support 3G and 4G.

Windows 8 Tablets

Microsoft has not revealed much about its Windows RT ARM-based tablets; it is more apt to promote its Windows 8 tablets running on x86 chips from Intel or AMD because they will be compatible with the entire Windows 7 line of business and productivity apps and will give IT groups the ability to manage and secure them.

Windows 8 tablets and tablet/laptop hybrids built on Intel and AMD architecture will be in retail stores in November, according to a CNET story that cites a source close to Windows 8 device makers.

Despite the obvious design, hardware and pricing challenges of competing with the iPad, Microsoft and partners do have the advantage of an established Windows base, especially in the business world.

If a Windows 8 tablet or hybrid can run the same software and apps that business users and consumers use on their traditional PCs and make the experience fast and fluid, Windows 8 tablets have a chance to transcend the tablet pack.

There are still lots of unknowns such as price and form factor design, but it's worth it for CIOs to keep an eye on Windows 8 tablets and consider waiting until November before investing in them.

Shane O'Neill covers Microsoft, Windows, Operating Systems, Productivity Apps and Online Services for CIO.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Shane at soneill@cio.com

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