Windows 8.1: One Vision, One Platform for everything you do at work

Beginning today, Windows 8.1 is available to all commercial customers and partners. As we’ve shared before, Windows 8.1 represents a significant milestone for our business customers. Windows 8.1 builds on our vision to offer businesses the most powerful and flexible modern operating system across devices, help customers enable their mobile users wherever they are working, and combine that flexibility with the manageability and security IT Pros demand.

With advancements in user experience, manageability, security, mobility and networking, Windows 8.1 is designed to help organizations drive their business forward with increased productivity, whether it be through connected mobile scenarios to enable new business opportunities, or leveraging technology to better streamline existing processes.

A number of our customers are already taking advantage of Windows 8.1 Enterprise to transform their business operations and empower increasingly mobile workforces, let me give you a few examples:

UnitedHealth Group has been working with Windows 8 over the past year with over 500 devices deployed to IT staff and mobile workers. The company is already testing and beginning the process of upgrading to Windows 8.1 with plans to deploy to over 5,000 devices in the next year. UnitedHealth Group is standardizing on Windows 8.1 for mobile health care workers, specifically care coordinators who perform in-home visits to assess health and coordinate care for members. By developing a modern line-of-business application running on a Windows 8.1 tablet device, a more efficient process will replace the current paper intensive documentation process. Long term, this will improve the efficiency in documenting care coordination services and also have an overall cost savings by streamlining complex reporting requirements. Windows 8.1 end-to-end security on a single device enhances the ability for UnitedHealth Group’s care coordinators in the field to remain more secure while assessing members’ health status and providing quicker access to care.

Boeing is taking a serious look at its mobility strategy and evaluating the latest Windows platform to provide many of the core features they need to deliver a “one device” solution for many mobile worker use cases.  For example, starting with Windows 8 and now moving to Windows 8.1 Enterprise, Boeing has developed new modern business applications to support an interactive sales experience for customers interested in purchasing their aircraft. Other modern style apps have been developed to support some manufacturing and quality operations and provide quick visibility into operational metrics related to Information Technology operations. Boeing has extremely high security standards, so they’re evaluating the built-in security features in Windows 8.1 for future deployment.

Boeing is also always looking at ways to reduce cost as a routine part of their business. Boeing is evaluating a diverse set of touch-enabled computing devices, including the Surface Pro and other Windows capable tablet devices from Dell, HP, Samsung and others. These devices are expected to deliver the full power of a PC with the convenience of a tablet so field sales employees and highly mobile workers can carry a single device. To further reduce capital costs, Windows To Go is an attractive offering Boeing is piloting to outfit some sourced workers with Windows To Go USB sticks, allowing them to easily use a Boeing approved image running Windows 8.1 on any compatible computer.

Boeing expressed enthusiasm and optimism about the potential benefits Windows 8.1 can bring to their business.

Campari Australia has moved its sales and marketing teams from a mix of Windows XP and Windows 7 machines to HP ElitePad 900 tablets running Windows 8. The move is changing the way they do business, with full-featured tablets that include Microsoft Office, access to SharePoint, and Lync to stay productive and connected. Previously, teams had to store information locally on their laptops or print out hard copies of presentations for customers. Now sales reps can get up and running quickly during customer presentations, the device is convenient to carry around, and they’re able to provide a more compelling experience for customers. Campari is also looking to build its own Windows app that will allow sales reps to show customers how to make different Campari cocktails. With the commercial availability of Windows 8.1 today, Campari plans to upgrade immediately. As Loic Herbin, IT Manager, APAC, Campari, shared, “At the end of the day Windows 8 had the functionality and workability which the iPad lacked.” To learn more about Campari’s migration from Windows XP and Windows 7 to Windows 8.1, click here.

Deploying Windows 8.1

With the final release of Windows 8.1 now available, businesses can complete their planning and testing of the operating system and start deploying. If you have not started your testing process, these deployment tools are a great resource to test Windows 8.1 Enterprise for compatibility with existing applications and IT infrastructure as your organization plans to move to Windows 8.1 Enterprise. For companies using specialized industry devices like point of service terminals, digital signs or kiosks, Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry extends the power of Windows 8.1 technologies to these devices. The Windows Embedded team has shared more detail on evaluation, device management and deployment tools on their blog as well.

One other item that cannot be repeated enough: businesses still using Windows XP need to move to a more modern operating system – whether it is Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 – before the end of support occurs on April 8, 2014. For businesses currently running Windows 7, evaluate Windows 8.1 for all your mobile scenarios, new touch devices as well as existing mouse and keyboard options. Download an evaluation edition of Windows 8.1 Enterprise today to begin your rollout planning!