What businesses will want to know about the Windows 8 Release Preview – #windows8

Today we announced that the Windows 8 Release Preview is now available for download. The Release Preview includes tens of thousands of improvements since the Windows 8 Consumer Preview build, including more personalization options for the Start screen and improved multi-monitor support. This milestone signifies the final phase of development before Windows 8 is released to manufacturing and made available through Volume Licensing. Now is a good time for you evaluate Windows 8 and start forming your Windows 8 Enterprise deployment plans.

Windows 8 is enterprise ready by design

Windows 8 will give businesses the experiences people love and the enterprise-grade solutions IT departments need. It delivers what today’s workforce wants, bringing new possibilities in mobile productivity, end-to-end security, virtualization and management advancements, and the business tablets you’ve been waiting for. Windows 8 delivers a fast, fluid, no-compromise experience for businesses; along with a user interface that responds equally well to touch as it does to a keyboard and mouse.

The Path to Windows 8

Windows 8 works with today’s hardware and we are working toward ensuring the software and application compatibility investments customers are making today for Windows 7 will carry forward. So if you’re in the process of moving to Windows 7, we encourage you to continue with your deployment while evaluating Windows 8 to see how it will benefit your business in a variety of ways, including:

  • Windows on the go – New features like Windows To Go will give businesses new possibilities in mobile productivity. It’s a fully manageable corporate Windows 8 desktop on a bootable USB stick and it will allow employees to work from anywhere on any device, while also helping IT professionals keep their organizations secure.
  • Working from anywhere – Enhancements with DirectAccess, Branch Cache and Mobile Broadband eliminate work boundaries while keeping employees secure.
  • Security –The end-to-end security in Windows 8 is driving a significant level of interest with many of you planning to take advantage of features like Trusted Boot, BitLocker Drive Encryption and AppLocker, enabling a more secure foundation no matter where employees are located.
  • Windows 8 tablets – We’re also getting a lot of feedback from customers about Windows 8 tablets since they will offer a no compromise solution to business delivering both mobile convenience and productivity by running all the Windows 7 line of business and productivity apps with the ability to manage and secure them.
  • Business apps – We’re hearing overwhelming excitement about the business possibilities with new Windows 8 apps both for internal usage (line of business) as well as the opportunity for organizations to create new innovative experiences for their customers. Windows 8 is a great platform for enterprise developers and we expect a lot of innovative enterprise apps to come.

For those of you still on Windows XP, we’ve talked a lot about the importance of migrating to Windows 7. Most recently we highlighted an IDC study that concluded, “Organizations that continue to retain a Windows XP environment not only are leaving themselves exposed to security risks and support challenges, but also are wasting budget dollars that would be better used in modernizing their IT investments.”

Our guidance remains the same: we encourage you to accelerate your move to Windows 7 to experience dramatic savings and functionality over Windows XP. It’s also a good time to consider a proof of concept or small pilot for Windows 8 so you can experience, firsthand, the business benefits enabled by the new capabilities described above.

Looking forward to TechEd North America

We’ll be sharing more about Windows 8 in a couple of weeks at TechEd North America in Orlando where Antoine Leblond, Corporate Vice President for Windows Web Services, will be keynoting on Tuesday, June 12. If you’re not able to join us at TechEd North America, you can view the live webcast of the keynote here and check back on the Windows for your Business blog for my take on the news and conversation from the conference.

The best part of my job is hearing your feedback and excitement about the business value of Windows 8. As I mentioned earlier, now is the time to download and start planning for Windows 8 in your organization. With the Release Preview milestone today, we also launched the Windows 8 Enterprise site, another great resource to help you plan for Windows 8.