An independent IT planning information service based on analysis
of Microsoft technologies, roadmaps
and licensing policies.
In-depth reports designed to help you quickly understand the technical underpinnings and strategic implications of new Microsoft enterprise technologies. Our research will save you time by putting all the critical details you need to evaluate Microsoft’s infrastructure products at your fingertips.
|Windows 8 in the Enterprise|
|Tuesday, 20 November 2012|
Windows 8 is both revolutionary and evolutionary. Revolutionary changes include a new, modern touch-enabled user interface; a new application platform designed to use the new Modern UI and hosted services such as Windows Azure; a new application distribution model based on a Microsoft-managed and Web-hosted store; and a new member of the Windows OS family, Windows RT, that runs Windows 8 features on ARM-based tablets. Evolutionary changes include a faster, more secure boot process, an installation option that allows roaming users to boot the Windows OS from an image stored on a special USB drive, and improvements to exploit remote access and file caching features of Windows Server 2012.
Many organizations have just finished planning or executing the rollout of Windows 7, so the prospect of budgeting and planning for another Windows OS could appear daunting. However, Windows 8 addresses some new IT pressures, such as employees wanting to use their own computers and mobile devices for work. Consequently, organizations need to at least take the time to understand the changes in Windows 8 and think about what opportunities and problems these changes may create.
This report is designed for IT managers who want to understand Windows 8 and decide how best to accommodate the OS within their software and device upgrade plans. It outlines the new user interface, application platform, and app store to address tablets and other new touch-enabled mobile computing devices. It also explains the improvements Windows 8 delivers for conventional PCs and summarizes PC hardware and software compatibility issues that organizations should watch out for.
Windows 8 is both revolutionary and evolutionary. Revolutionary change includes the following:
The names of many of these features were changed during development from code names to new and hopefully permanent monikers. (See the chart "Windows 8 Nomenclature".)
Evolutionary changes include the following:
Why So Much Change?
The most important changes in Windows 8 are intended to address growing challenges that Microsoft and its enterprise IT customers face from "consumerization of IT," in which employees demand more influence on where, when, and how they use technology to do their work.
In particular, employees have access to new, powerful portable devices, such as the Apple iPad and iPhone, running a new style of small, touch-enabled, task-focused applications. More and more employees expect to be able to use these formerly consumer devices to be productive in both their personal and work lives. This has led organizations to develop "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) policies and programs for employees using personal devices to do work either on- or off-premises. Organizations that successfully held non-Windows computers at bay for years by sequestering these devices to specialized scenarios, such as marketing, now find they are unable to stop this trend, as it is the organization's senior managers who are often among the employees demanding change.
Windows 8 tries to address the needs of tablets and other mobile devices. Although versions of Windows have been available for stylus-based tablets and smartphones, such devices have met with limited market acceptance, mostly due to the lack of truly touch-enabled applications and poor battery life. With Windows 8, Microsoft has redesigned the user interface, application platform, and application deployment technologies for touch-enabled applications. It has also evolved the boot process, power management system, and network stack to address tablet needs, although many of the changes benefit PCs as well.
Microsoft also has delivered the Windows To Go USB boot technology to help address BYOD usage of conventional PCs. The technology enables a user to employ a secure, managed corporate image from a computer that the corporation does not manage, such as a home PC or personal laptop. However, the technology could also address specific uses of company-managed computers, such as temporary workers using shared computers.
The result of all of these changes is an OS that keeps one foot in the old world, capable of running today's applications on existing hardware, while moving the other foot forward to create an OS truly capable of powering today's new lightweight, powerful and power-efficient devices such as touch-enabled tablets.
Why Evaluate Windows 8?
Because Windows 8 addresses fundamental trends, organizations should think about how Windows 8 and the new Windows family member will affect them, even if they do not adopt the new OSs immediately. In particular an organization should consider the following:
How will new applications be developed or purchased? When an organization needs a new application or is updating an existing application, will it develop or acquire applications designed to exploit the new Modern UI and the new WinRT environment or continue to use the existing Windows desktop application platform? If the organization adopts the new technologies for an application, will it distribute the application via the Windows Store or by sideloading from its own infrastructure?
How will new hardware purchases be handled? Will the organization purchase new computers, including desktops, laptops, ultrabooks, and tablets, with touch-enabled hardware and will it deploy these devices with Windows 8 or downgrade them to an earlier version, such as Windows 7?
Are there special cases for which Windows RT should be deployed? Will the organization allow departments or groups within the organization to use Windows RT on new ARM-based tablets because they have an application that would benefit from running on a touch-enabled, lightweight tablet that offers long battery life?
How will BYOD Windows 8 devices be handled? Will the organization allow users to bring Windows 8 or Windows RT-based computers that the employee owns onto the employer's premises and use those computers to perform their jobs?
There is no single correct answer to any of these questions, but understanding Windows 8 could help organizations avoid less-than-optimal choices with long-term impact.
This report is designed for IT managers who want to understand Windows 8 and decide how best to accommodate the OS within their plans.
The following chapters address Windows 8 UI, programming model, and application deployment technologies for tablets:
"Windows Store Applications Bring New Design Goals". Windows 8 and Windows RT emphasize the new, modern touch-centric UI. Developers, IT staff, and users will need to become familiarized with the Modern UI concepts and elements to build, maintain, and use applications that work in the new environment.
"Deploying Windows Store Applications". Organizations and developers need to learn the Windows Store's submission and certification processes to understand and implement Windows Store usage policies and sideloading techniques to manage application distribution to employee PCs and devices.
The following chapters address Windows 8 technology changes that will be useful in conventional PCs and laptops, as well as important compatibility considerations for moving to the new OS:
"Using the Windows 8 Windows To Go Feature". Windows To Go, a feature of the Windows 8 Enterprise edition, allows a user to insert a USB drive containing a Windows 8 image and use that USB-based image to safely boot and use the computer.
"Windows DirectAccess and BranchCache Updated". Two Windows 8 features, which work in conjunction with Windows Server 2012, have been updated to make them easier to deploy.
"Windows 8 to Boot Faster and More Securely". New changes to Windows 8 will mean that users can be productive faster if they have to boot their computer, but faster booting of Windows 8 relies on a new firmware standard and solid-state disks.
"Visual Basic 6 Will Run on Windows 8". Although it will not be supported on Windows RT, the Visual Basic 6 runtime will be included and supported on Windows 8.
"Software Tested by Windows 8, Windows Server 2012". An application compatibility guide provides information and guidance to help developers identify and fix compatibility problems that could impact applications and drivers working with Windows 8.
Other chapters of this report include the following:
"How Windows 8 Is Delivered to Enterprises". The packaging of the new OS is explained and the capabilities of Windows RT, the separate OS for ARM-based tablets, including Microsoft's Surface RT device, are summarized.
"Resources". Additional information from Directions on Microsoft and others is included in this report, as well as information on other features that are primarily a part of Windows Server but are available in Windows 8, such as PowerShell and Storage Spaces.
This 32-Page Report Contains [18,494 words]