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

Last month we talked about how Windows 8 is Windows reimagined for our business customers and earlier this week we shared information on the Windows 8 editions we’ll be making available to customers when Windows 8 becomes generally available. I wanted to take this opportunity today to also talk about what the Windows 8 Enterprise edition will offer customers when it becomes available and how the Software Assurance benefits are changing to better meet our customers’ needs.

Introducing Windows 8 Enterprise

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. There’s a good summary of these features in a press release we issued last month.

Enhancing the Windows Benefits in Software Assurance

As we reimagine Windows 8, we’re also enhancing our Software Assurance (SA) benefits to meet the needs of today’s workforce. I know you all see firsthand how technology has influenced the way people work and how employees need to stay connected to their data, apps and other people from anywhere, at any time, from a range of devices. We will be making improvements to Windows Software Assurance that provides business customers with better ways to enable these flexible work styles.

So let’s take a look at some of the details of the new licensing benefits. After Windows 8 Enterprise becomes available, Software Assurance customers will have the following new use rights:

  • Windows To Go Use Rights: Windows To Go will allow companies to support Bring Your Own PC scenarios and will give employees who need to work from home more secure access to their full corporate environment. With Windows To Go use rights under Software Assurance, an employee will be able to use Windows To Go on any company PC licensed with Windows SA as well as from their home PC. Additionally, through a new companion device license for SA, employees will be able to use WTG on their personal devices at work.
  • Windows RT Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) Rights: When used as a companion of a Windows Software Assurance licensed PC, Windows RT will automatically receive extended VDA rights. These rights will provide access to a full VDI image running in the datacenter which will make Windows RT a great complementary tablet option for business customers.
  • Companion Device License: For customers who want to provide full flexibility for how employees access their corporate desktop across devices, we are introducing a new Companion Device License for Windows SA customers. For users of Windows Software Assurance licensed PCs this optional add-on will provide rights to access a corporate desktop either through VDI or Windows To Go on up to four personally owned devices.

Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack

In addition to Windows 8 Enterprise, Software Assurance customers also have the ability to subscribe to MDOP. MDOP helps enterprise customers take advantage of desktop virtualization, manage Windows features, and restore user productivity after a system issue. We have recently also added User Experience Virtualization (UE-V), which allows individuals to change their device without reconfiguring applications or settings in Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Windows Intune

Windows Intune offers PC management and security from virtually anywhere via the cloud. In addition, we just announced that the next release of Windows Intune will support mobile device management, a self-service Company Portal and the ability to leverage user accounts, in addition to several other enhancements. Windows Intune is available as an add-on for Windows customers with Enterprise Agreements and gives you a way to manage multiple devices for each employee under a single license.

Enhancing Enterprise Value

Windows 8 Enterprise, MDOP, Windows Intune and our new Software Assurance benefits will help you deliver the experiences people love while maintaining the security and manageability you require.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview to experience first-hand the beautiful, fast and fluid experience that includes the mobility, performance and security features your business needs. I also encourage you to stay tuned here to the Windows for your Business blog for more information on the enterprise value we’ll be delivering.