Five Windows 8 features businesses should watch | Techworld. (No longer available online. Original text included below.)
Microsoft’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview wasn’t Wednesday’s only download of interest to businesses. Also released was its Product Guide for Business, a 15 page PDF file that explores the most relevant Windows 8 features and technologies for businesses. Though littered with typos, the guide provides a well organized overview of many previously introduced features, as well as details that weren’t previously disclosed.
Though the name of Windows 8 beta would suggest it is targeted at consumers, many businesses will also be getting their first view of the new operating system. Windows 8 was designed not just for home use, but for the workplace as well, here are five of the areas mentioned in the Product Guide for Business that will affect companies the most.
1. Windows To Go
Windows To Go allows businesses that develop their own custom image to install that image on a bootable flash drive. The image can contain all of the apps and settings that are normally used on the desktops and laptops within the business. A remote worker can then use this drive to boot their home or other non-business owned Windows 7 or Windows 8 compatible computer and still access all work related functions while not endangering the safety of the businesses data.
2. Mobile Productivity
Windows 8 was designed with mobile devices in mind, and a number of features make it more mobile friendly. Beyond Windows To Go, features like Direct Access allow businesses that use Windows 8 Server to create a VPN-like secure connection between the users device and work resources like business apps and internal websites. Built-in support for mobile broadband makes working over a 3G or 4G connection as easy as using WiFi.
3. Internet Explorer 10
Windows 8 includes Internet Explorer 10, which Microsoft refers to in two ways. “Internet Explorer” is the touch-based version that runs on the Metro interface, and “the desktop version of Internet Explorer” which looks like IE9 and runs in the desktop interface. While most of the security, management and performance features from past versions of IE are still available to both, the Metro version is “plug-in free”. Business applications that rely on Active X controls, now described as “legacy”, will only work in the desktop version.
All businesses are concerned about security, and Windows 8 brings new features to help protect against malware and viruses. The new “Trusted boot process” uses Secure Boot to load antimalware early in the startup process to prevent rootkits from taking control. When installed on hardware with a Trusted Platform Module, the entire startup process can be “measured, signed and stored”, and even evaluated by a remote service so the integrity of the computer can be validated. While using a computer, AppLocker can control what apps a worker can run, and what files those apps have access to, which can prevent malware from accessing private business data.
5. ManagementManagement and security features from Windows 7 are also available in Windows 8, though tools like Application Compatibility Toolkit and User State Migration Tool promise to make deploying Windows 8 faster and easier. A welcome addition is the ability to Refresh, which can restore a non-functional PC to working condition without loosing a users settings and data. A similar feature called Reset allows companies to easily wipe their data and apps from the machine making it easier to repurpose, sell or surplus it. There’s still room to improve though as Microsoft revealed that though 32-bit and 64-bit tablets can be managed in the same way that desktop and laptops can, ARM-based tablets cannot, they must be handled as stand-alone devices.