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At the Build conference Wednesday morning, we released the Windows 8.1 Preview for IT Pros to download and evaluate. This morning Jon DeVaan, corporate vice president for Windows Development, took the stage at TechEd Europe in Madrid to explain how all of the pieces we’ve shared about Windows 8.1 over the past month fit together to deliver the best business tablets and next generation business PCs.
Windows 8.1 Features
Jon demonstrated the modern Windows 8.1 user interface and how integration with technologies like SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro, or Work Folders enables business users to stay in touch with everything important for them, at work and in their life. This includes access to their data, UI settings and Windows Store apps from anywhere, on any Windows 8.1 device.
User experience and app improvements are a big part of the Windows 8.1 update, as are business-centric features such as NFC-tagged and Wi-Fi connected devices to improve mobile productivity; security enhancements that include fingerprint-based biometrics and multi-factor authentication using Virtual Smart Cards.
Additionally, Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) management improvements were central to this update and include the ability to remotely wipe data from a device and support for the Mobile Device Management solutions by leading MDM vendors.
New management capabilities for the Start screen now allow IT pros to deliver standardized Start screen layouts for their companies, while Assigned Access enables a single application experiences on a device which is ideal in common customer-facing scenarios (e.g. selecting car features on a device at an auto dealership). More info on Windows 8.1 features available here.
App-V 5.0 SP2 and UE-V 2.0
Today we also announced the beta availability of Microsoft User Experience Virtualization 2.0 (UE-V 2.0) and Microsoft Application Virtualization 5.0 SP2 (App-V 5.0 SP2), two critical components from Microsoft’s Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) that give business customers access to all of their desktop and internal line of business applications, as well as personalized Windows environments from anywhere. UE-V 2.0 and App-V 5.0 SP2 will ship as part of a future version of MDOP but are available in beta versions now for download and support the Windows 8.1 Preview.
Visit Springboard, our destination for IT Professionals, for more information on these components.
Windows 8 Customer Adoption
In Europe we are seeing great adoption of Windows 8 and today TechEd Europe keynote attendees heard from SAP and the Dutch Public Prosecution Services on how they are using Windows 8, but here are some other businesses from the region I wanted to share who are using Windows 8 to modernize their businesses:
Be sure to visit the Microsoft News Center for more information on these customers and others adopting Microsoft’s latest innovations.
Try Out Windows 8.1
We’re excited for our customers to evaluate, test and pilot Windows 8.1 in their organizations, to see the benefits of Windows 8.1 for tablet and PC scenarios and to evaluate new modern Windows apps for their businesses. The Windows 8.1 Preview is pre-release software so customers who want to upgrade now, should download the free Preview on secondary and test machines. (Note that when updating from Windows 8.1 Preview to the final Windows 8.1 release, only data and user accounts will be migrated, both desktop and modern applications will need to be reinstalled.)
For enterprise IT organizations that want to install Windows 8.1 Preview on Windows 8 machines dedicated to testing, there are two options available for volume license versions of Windows: 1) update and refresh (i.e. machines can be updated in place, retaining all data, settings, and apps, using the original Windows 8.1 media) or 2) IT pros can perform a “refresh” deployment, where the data and settings are captured, the current OS is removed, Windows 8.1 is installed on a clean drive, apps are reinstalled, and then the user data is restored.
IT Professionals – look for an update on the Springboard Series Blog announcing the availability of Windows 8.1 Preview ISO images for deployment of Windows 8.1 in managed environments tomorrow (Thursday, June 27th.)