Modern Business in Mind: Windows 8.1 at TechEd 2013

Modern Business in Mind: Windows 8.1 at TechEd 2013

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TechEd North America is officially underway in New Orleans and we’ve had a great turnout of IT professionals, developers, analysts and press eager to hear about the latest versions of Microsoft’s platforms, servers and of course, Windows 8.1.

We built Windows 8 to bring the most powerful and modern computing experience to businesses and to help professionals stay connected to their colleagues and clients from anywhere, anytime. Windows 8.1 advances this vision and introduces new manageability, mobility, security, user experience and networking capabilities that will be available later this year. And our goal for Windows 8.1: offer customers the best business tablets and versatile, next generation business PCs driven by the most powerful operating system designed for modern businesses.

Windows 8.1: Driving Businesses Forward

During the TechEd keynote this morning, my colleague Iain McDonald, partner director of program management for Windows, talked through what businesses can look forward to in Windows 8.1, and I want to take a moment to highlight some of my favorite features that I believe will help you be more mobile and secure – including the tools for businesses to enable Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scenarios.

Networking features optimized for mobile productivity. Windows 8.1 improves mobile productivity for today’s workforce with new networking capabilities that take advantage of NFC-tagged and Wi-Fi connected devices, including:

  • NFC tap-to-pair printing – Tap your Windows 8.1 device against an enterprise NFC-enabled printer and you’re all set to print. No more hunting on your network for the correct printer and no need to buy a special printer; just attach a NFC tag to your existing machines. And you don’t need to buy new printers to take advantage of this; you can simply put an NFC tag on your existing printers to enable this functionality.
  • Wi-Fi Direct printing – Connect to Wi-Fi Direct printers without adding additional drivers or software on your Windows 8.1 device, forming a peer-to-peer network between your device and the printer.
  • Native Miracast wireless display – Present your work wirelessly without any dongles needed; simply project your content to a Miracast-enabled device by pairing the device through Wi-Fi Direct using NFC. Miracast will then use the available Wi-Fi connection to let you lean back and project wire-free.
  • Broadband tethering – Turn your Windows 8.1 mobile broadband-enabled PC or tablet into a personal Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing other devices to connect and access the internet.
  • Auto-triggered VPN – When you select an app or resource that needs access through the inbox VPN – like a company’s intranet site – Windows 8.1 will automatically prompt you to sign in with one click. This feature will be available with Microsoft and third-party inbox VPN clients.

Security enhancements for device proliferation and mobility.Security continues to be a top priority for companies across the world, so we’re making sure we continue to invest resources to help you protect your corporate data, applications and devices:

  • Modern Access Controls – Sign in and authenticate devices with new support for fingerprint-based biometrics. Multi-factor authentication using Virtual Smart Cards will also be made even easier in Windows 8.1.
  • Malware Resistance –Windows Defender, Microsoft’s free antivirus solution in Windows 8, will include network behavior monitoring to help detect and stop the execution of known and unknown malware. Internet Explorer will scan binary extensions (e.g. ActiveX) using the antimalware solution before potentially harmful code is executed.

Improved management solutions to make BYOD a reality. As BYOD scenarios continue to grow in popularity among businesses, Windows 8.1 will make managing mobile devices even easier for IT Pros:

  • Improved IT controls – IT departments can now control the layout of the Start screen on company-issued devices to ensure key apps are easily accessible. IT departments can also prevent users from customizing their start screen to ensure consistency across individual workgroups or the entire company.
  • Remote business data removal – Allows personal devices to connect to, access and store company content that can be efficiently removed from the device by IT at a later date while leaving the personal data intact.
  • Open MDM – With Windows 8.1, new Open Mobile Alliance Device Management (OMA-DM) capabilities are built into the OS and enable mobile device management using third-party MDM solutions, such as MobileIron or AirWatch, with no additional agent required. Enhanced policies allow administrators to manage more settings from both Windows Intune and the third-party MDM solutions for both Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1.
  • Workplace Join – Further control access to company data by ensuring that only registered and trusted devices are allowed to access secured enterprise data.

More control over business devices. Businesses can more effectively deliver an intended experience to their end users – whether that be employees or customers.

  • Assigned Access – Enable a single Windows Store application experience on the device (e.g. a learning application for a child, a customer service application at a boutique.) Enabling this feature turns on a predefined set of filters that blocks other actions so the user only experiences the specified application and is unable to access system files and other applications.
  • Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Our offering for Industry devices like POS Systems, ATMs, and Digital Signage that provides a broader set of device lockdown capabilities.

With the preview of Windows 8.1 coming soon, it’s important to talk about our deployment guidance to customers. Businesses that are still running Windows XP need to begin testing and migrating to a modern operating system – like Windows 7 or Windows 8 – as soon as possible before end of support occurs in April 2014. If you are currently deploying Windows 7, continue with those deployments, but start looking at the Windows 8 platform, particularly in business tablet scenarios. We also recommend businesses start targeting Windows 8.1 touch PCs for their hardware refresh planning as well as evaluate Windows 8.1 for all device form factors. And if you are already testing and deploying Windows 8, Windows 8.1 will be available later this year so you can begin your migration.

Attendees at TechEd are also getting to chat with NASCAR driver Alex Bowman of Robbie Benton Racing, who is using TRD U.S.A.’s (Toyota Racing Development) Windows 8 Trackside App to help prepare for his races in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series. This app, along with Surface Pro devices, are used to give RAB Racing drivers and engineers access to instant race analytics and data. Check out this videowe shared earlier this year to learn more about the Windows 8 Trackside app.

And coming this summer…

On June 26, at the Build developer conference in San Francisco, Microsoft will release a public preview of Windows 8.1 for Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry. Upgrading to Windows 8.1 is simple as the update does not introduce any new hardware requirements and all existing Windows Store apps are compatible.

For a breakdown of other Microsoft products and services discussed in today’s keynote, be sure to watch the replay of today’s TechEd Keynote, and see what the Windows Server team is up to at their In the Cloud blog. And for more information on Windows 8.1 for the enterprise, click here.

19 Comments
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  • I have Windows 8.1 running on several PC's. However, I have been unable to successfully install it on my Samsung Series 7 tablet (which is running Win 8 Pro). It get's all the way through the install and set up then automatically reverts back to the previous version. Any thoughts regarding this error?

  • I just read your Interview with heise - but a Modern UI Startmenu could look like this: www.severint.net/.../wie-das-startmenue-in-windows-9-aussehen-koennte

  • Puzukl
    0 Posts

    The first thing that is taught to students of computer science: "The machine has to adapt to the people and not vice versa" so why can't Microsoft be flexible

  • Puzukl
    0 Posts

    For over 25 years the users were taught: "Here is the mouse pointer, there is a button, move the pointer to the button and then click." Then the button disappears in Win 8 and nobody knows where to click and Microsoft wonders why the users were upset. Is Microsoft really so incapable and incompetent to give users what they want? The new user interface is nice - in some cases. Some things are used to and some other things are crap. The first thing that is taught to students of computer science: "

  • Win 8 is wonderful. I am amazed at the so-called "techie

    people having a problem because they are unfamiliar the program. I too have been in IT for over 20 years, and rather than being frustrated...experiment and research and try new things. After a while it too becomes second nature...

  • @lan, you know why it's called Bing(Because It's Not Google)

  • The app crap is simply a device to separate me from my money or to provide SOMEONE the ability to track my activity.

  • TQTQ
    0 Posts

    I completely agree with Win8Stinks.  I'm not a tech person but have been using one computer or another for decades and HATE Windows 8. There is too much visual clutter for business and I don't see an easy way to clear it away or hide it.  I received a new laptop running Windows 8 as a replacement for a work laptop running XP. Simple things are driving me crazy. Why is the task bar text white on white? Why am I using  Google blind because of this? Why is the comment text here gray on black? How do it make it stop so that I can get something done? I'm busy and do real things on my laptop.  I play on my iPad and Apple does the box touch thing well there.  I will spend one more day trying to fix this, then I'm going to find out how to get 8 off my computer. No employer I've ever had would switch to this.

  • adamguy
    0 Posts

    i hate windows xp

    everyone like companys uses it

  • Entegy: It will be upgradable.  However, you will need to re-install all your apps when you get the beta version, and when you install the RTM.  If you go straight from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 RTM, your apps will be brought straight over: www.pcworld.com/.../warning-users-will-have-to-reinstall-all-apps-if-they-opt-for-windows-8-1-beta.html.  news.softpedia.com/.../Upgrading-from-Windows-8-1-Preview-to-RTM-Will-Remove-All-Installed-Apps-358777.shtml.

  • As much as I dislike Linux, most of the distributions I've played around with have two options for interfaces - KDE and Gnome. KDE reminds me of the Windows 3.1 Program Manager and Windows 8. Gnome has a Start Menu similar to Windows 7.

    Why can't MS do something like that? The Start button in 8.1 is just that - a button. It still takes you back to that hideous Windows 8 Start Menu. It isn't a menu that keeps the screen clear of the clutter that is the Windows 8 Start Menu.

    Because I treat my home network about the same as the company where I work, I haven't read anything that makes me want to run out an purchase a Windows 8 computer yet, nor do I see anything that makes me want to install it on business computers either.

    Almost all of the features listed above represent security and compliance risks that I as a Desktop Systems Engineer/Administrator do not really want to deal with. I mean really, what security and compliance person in their right mind would want employees downloading company documents to a personal tablet/laptop? I didn't see anything about encryption for these tablets.

    There are those that say if you don't like Windows 8/8.1, it's just because you haven't taken the time to learn it. On the contrary, that's my job. It's what I do for a living. Every time a new OS is released, I disect it and form conclusions about whether or not to use it. I put the beta, then preview, then release versions in VMs or on hardware if available and take them for a spin.

    For us, Desktop Gadgets, the Sidebar, etc., are disabled in Windows 7. No one verifies those apps/gadgets, and I've seen too many that are just plain CPU hogs. We don't need more calls to the support desk because someone downloaded a gadget/app that crashes their computer.

    Just because I don't like something doesn't mean that I haven't taken the time to learn it, or that I'm afraid to learn new things. We all make decisions about what we like in life. Some prefer GM cars, others prefer Ford. Some like like the fact that newer cars have OnStar or GPS. I won't buy a car with OnStar or GPS. It isn't because I don't understand the technology. It's because I do understand the technology that I won't buy.

    In this case, I prefer Windows 7 and its features much more that I do Windows 8/8.1. I haven't found a compelling reason to put our business through the learning curve and clutter that is Windows 8/8.1, that I can't recommend an upgrade yet. People that sit all day and do email, word processing, or number crunching, don't want cute little apps from the Windows Store, or the clutter that is the Windows 8/8.1 Start Menu. They don't want "charms". They don't want what passes as news, weather, and sports streamed to some goofy looking "tile", and I don't care how many sizes they come in, they look ridiculous. People just want to get their work done.

    Anybody remember Microsoft Bob? Meet his grandchild - Windows 8.1.

    toastytech.com/.../bob.html

  • 好吧,我是收到微软的邮件才进来的,我想应该试试Windows8.1,虽然Linux系统已经占据了我的电脑,或者可以再来试着重新接受Windows!

  • Ian
    0 Posts

    "Bing" is such a cool name, these guys are so across the future

    first with internet, first with mobile, first with search, why shouldn't

    they tell us the future

  • - We'll share more specific details regarding the Windows 8.1 preview closer to June 26th.

  • Hi everyone, thanks for the comments! Remember - feel free to discuss your opinions, send us your thoughts and feedback. All we ask is that you keep things respectful and constructive - to us and other readers. Thanks!

  • Agosto
    0 Posts

    Great new features, these will make any business more secure, I'm honestly glad that my competition is so negative, so I'll have the best features on my P.C. for my company, the arguments the above comments make is just laughable, Microsoft is KNOWNS FOR supporting ancient software, I can anything I can do from Windows XP on Windows 8, I'm still surprised reading most of these negative comments.

    Great work, thank you Windows Team ;-)

  • fansoft
    0 Posts

    never ever will my company nor any it professional migrate to this crap formerly known as windows

  • xpclient
    50 Posts

    Upgrading an OS should not cause massive loss of features. Many Windows 7 features disappeared in Windows 8, so it's safe to assume Windows 8/8.1 features will disappear in Windows 9. No thanks then, I will not use these features I have no guarantee these will not be suddenly killed or secretly vanish or "reimagined" in next release as MS loses interest in them and focuses on something else.

  • Entegy
    42 Posts

    Will the 8.1 preview be upgradable to 8.1 RTM or will it require a reinstall like the preview for previous versions of Windows?