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

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

  • Comments 23
  • Likes

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.

You must be logged in to comment. Sign in or Join Now
  • For those of you who are interested in Windows 8 To Go for consumers, I would suggest you guys to look into Ceedo Personal.

    Ceedo Personal and Windows To Go shares some what similar concepts. For more information you can head over to Ceedo website.

    Ceedo is by no means a replacement for Windows To go, but it can serve as an alternative for regular consumers.

    For those of you who are interested, I can give you more information on it.

  • MikeRun
    1 Posts

    How  do I obtain a Win 8 Release Preview that includes these features?

    Most of these features should be available for install in a retail edition

  • tomrune
    1 Posts

    InTune includes Windows Enterprise licences.

    Will you provide any insights into how direct InTune subscribers can leverage any of these news and how the licence will work for them?

  • RetFx
    1 Posts

    Please add AppLocker to a retail Windows version. I use SRC, AppLocker on every private computer since many years. Its the best malware protection for Mom and Dad and me. I can't buy a SA for private use!

  • KeithW
    1 Posts

    I have to agree with Joannemullen, Metro will completely stop us from migrating to Windows 8. We will stick with Windows 7 until it is no longer supported.

  • AppLocker is available in Windows 7 Ultimate. Why will this very helpful security feature not be available in any Windows 8 edition for private PCs?

  • biac
    1 Posts

    > Domain joined PCs and tablets running Windows 8 Enterprise will automatically be enabled to side-load internal, Windows 8 Metro style apps.

    Does it mean follows?: "Domain joined PCs and tablets running Windows 8 *Pro* will *manually* be enabled to side-load internal, Windows 8 Metro style apps."

    Or, does Windows 8 Pro have no capability to side-load?

  • Microsoft Talks Up Windows RT's App Management Capabilities

    "Microsoft has said recently that Windows RT devices, when available, will not be capable of Active Directory (AD) management, whereas x86/x64 devices running Windows 8 will have this basic IT management capability. Since AD provides a means for establishing user access within a Windows-based network, it was puzzling why Windows RT would lack direct AD support. The answer to that riddle now seems to be associated with this new management structure for Windows RT, which handles user access to apps. In the background, Active Directory is still part of the process.

    Self-Service Portal for Getting Apps

    Microsoft's solution for situations where a person uses their Windows RT-based personal device for work, in which they must access "line-of-business" applications on the organization's network, is an authentication approach that's associated with a self-service portal (SSP). This SSP houses Metro-style applications that were internally developed by an organization or developed by an independent software vendor. It also can include links to Web apps and links to Windows Store-based apps."

  • If only they would have allowed Bob 2 to be shut off or hidden and locked away I think Windows 8 would be great but to try and force feed us this slop of an interface is so bad that it just kills any and all justification for getting Windows 8.  

    bah M$ is just focused on shooting it's self with Bob 2 and won't do a thing till the bomb has dropped.

  • Details are still a bit sketchy but I think they are changing the activation of volume license editions of Windows 8 in a Windows Server 2012 environment.  The current model as 'xpclient' alluded to is via an MAK volume license key or a KMS activation server.  I think they are working on another option of using your AD infrastructure/servers instead.  So in an AD/Domain environment - if you are allowing your set of corporate computers to authenticate into your AD/Domain, then why have them activate their Windows OS against a KMS Host Server?  Why not just let the AD servers do it as part of the machine authentication process?  A KMS Host Server does not do any license police'ing nor license monitoring and so there's nothing really lost by just making it simpler in having the Windows activation/authentication process baked into AD.  

    Seems to make sense to me instead of going thru the separate KMS Host Server setup process....and again, I believe that's what is in the works but details are still vague and sketchy.

  • I really would like you reconsider #WindowsToGo in a consumer scenario.

    Imagine letting Nokia build a set of products made of:

    - a #wp8 device with an embedded 128GB SSD HD(and an associated #WindowsToGo installation on it)

    - a special notebook-like dock, were you can dock the phone in (like the Atrix dock, but with the CPU, but will be a full PC just without the HD)

    - a special tablet-like dock (again a full PC tablet without the HD)

    - a special mediacenter-like dock with a PC-kinect (again a full PC without the HD, or only with an HD for backing up what I have in )

    - an USB3 port, to connect it to different hw (eg. my self-built super powered desktop)

  • xpclient
    50 Posts

    @Kenster, SA is expensive and isn't always the best value depending on the number of PCs you have. Having the option of having a retail license is very important. Microsoft did the same mistake with Office 2010 where SharePoint Workspace 2010 and Office Customization Tool is only available in the Professional Plus SKU which is a volume license-only edition of Office. Making the same mistake again. I think they want to force all non-consumers into buying Software Assurance. I definitely won't be buying SA as it doesn't give me value.

  • worrall
    3 Posts

    Dear @xpclient ---

    Correct me if I'm wrong but the problem as I see it is that the customer pays TWICE. Once for the Windows 8 O/S license from the OEM that builds the computer and once for the SA license on top of that. It is my understanding that the customer with SA can't simply purchase their computers without the O/S license. This is a significant price increase compared to Windows 7 where the customer would simply purchase Ultimate edition with the laptop and could then use DirectAccess etc.

  • @xpclient

    What's wrong with buying Software Assurance with say a 2 year agreement and then dropping it at the end of the term?  You'll still get perpetual use rights of the Enterprise edition even if you drop SA.  On a new Win 8 Pro PC you can add just SA and be done with it to get access to the Enterprise edition.

    I don't understand the part about Retail activation being easier?  In Retail you have an individual activation key for each install.  In volume licensing editions - you can use a single MAK key for all activations and so it's easier to create a sysprepped master image based on a single MAK key.  

    Yes an MAK key has an initial activation limit but Retail copies are very restrictive on activations and you have to call the activation team to assist with reactivation scenarios.  Plus the activation limit on an MAK key can be increased as well to accommodate your needs.  I've asked for MAK increases many times for customers --- for example, I've successfully asked for an MAK limit increase to 300 activations for a firm with 100 machines.  And for other orgs I've seen MAK increases in the thousands.  

    1 key for all your activations and you don't have to keep track of paper licenses or boxes to certify you own the licensing to the OS.  Volume licensing users have access to download the ISO media and Keys online whenever they want.  

    You know how many times I've seen small firms with changes to IT personnel and the new IT manager or IT engineer has no idea where the install OS media are located nor what the product keys are nor do they know what licenses they really have.  With volume licensing --- a licensing history report can be pulled for all purchases no matter from which vendor it was purchased from and you have a consolidated location for your software media and product keys.  

    Furthermore --- even though Windows volume licenses are upgrade licenses - you also get access to the FULL bootable ISO image whereas the Retail Upgrade versions are more finicky because they're actual Upgrade media versions.

  • xpclient
    50 Posts

    Hey hey Microsoft you are making a huge mistake!!! Please reconsider. I am not a Software Assurance customer, I want features like AppLocker, Windows To Go, RemoteFX, VDI and most importantly MDOP. I may not need BranchCache or DirectAccess as we don't have a distributed WAN but I most certainly need the other features. I want to buy Retail licenses for simpler activation. There is no way I would buy Software Assurance. Is Windows 8 Enterprise licensed only through SA? How is the activation process? I don't wish to implement the complex Volume Activation 2.0 with a KMS server / or MAK limitations. I want an Enterprise edition with Retail license. Do you understand that or care about that? Please clarify!!!! This is the first time in the history of Windows that the highest priced edition is not available at retail. Why can't you make it like Windows XP Professional which was available at retail and for volume licensing for Software Assurance customers?

  • @Kenster: Even with MSDN avaibility of software, you still have to install and configure the software stack on each piece of hardware. Windows To Go would make this easier by just having to boot a USB drive to do the testing. Just a possible useful feature I though of.

  • T Windows
    116 Posts


    Thanks for your post!

    This is very good news indeed, my IT Department and fellow tech buds are at ease now - prior to news we were prepare to rewrite/reimage our installs for business use as a backup plan.

    But nevertheless Microsoft Windows always comes through with the right solutions, thanks again.

    - Stay Powered by Windows

  • Wow - The extension of the VDA rights to Windows 8 RT business customers is definitely a counter-punch to the iPad market in the workplace especially organizations using or toying with the idea of desktop virtualization/VDI.

  • The only feature which business users - and everyone else really - wants will be to turn Metro off, but now that Metro IS windows, and the desktop is only an "app" that's not going to happen.  Which is why businesses aren't going to buy Windows 8.  You must be doing customer research on this, and yet you continue to head full speed for the cliff.  Bizarre.

  • @limitedmage

    For the Developers scenario - MS has the MSDN licenses for that.  It's licensed per user and allows you to use MS OS/Software to do your development & testing in a physical or virtual environment on just about any hardware you want as long as it's not a production environment.  If you need to test your app on 20 different hardware configurations then you are free to test on 20, 50 or whatever number of machines you need to.

  • marmau
    2 Posts

    I take this as it will be an SA benefit.  Any volume license customer should be able to buy it - including schools with CASA or EES agreements (at least that's my guess).  Also, Devs should be able to find Windows To Go in MSDN.  Perhaps Erwin will clarify?

  • It's a shame, though not surprising, that Windows To Go is an enterprise-only feature. I could think of a large number of scenarios for  Windows To Go, such as studentsbeing able to use their own software and PC configuration on both their home PC and the school's computer lab, or developers testing their software on a variety of hardware  without having to install the whole software stack on different devices. I though of it as "Bring your own software", instead of "Bring your own hardware" that the Windows To Go team has been concentrating on.

  • samsabri
    12 Posts

    Why is Windows To Go only for Enterprise? It should be in the Pro edition as well.