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Windows 8.1 Evaluation Guide
Report by: Wes Miller
Posted: March 2014
Organizations that chose to skip evaluating Windows 8 may find that both Windows 8.1 (and Windows RT 8.1) now have enterprise-focused features that warrant review
Windows 8.1 includes new features designed for the enterprise, but most of them require Windows Server 2012 R2 or other Microsoft software and services
Work Folders in Windows Server 2012 R2 allow users to securely synchronize on-premises files with Windows 8.1 devices without requiring a VPN connection and enforce file encryption and IT security policy
New functionality in Windows Server 2012 R2 registers unmanaged devices into Active Directory, enabling single sign-on for some services
Windows 8.1 includes support for wireless display and wireless printing standards
IE11, available for Windows 7 and 8.1, improves performance, compatibility, touch functionality, and developer tools, but substantial changes require testing of existing sites
Windows 8.1 includes many new consumer-focused features that businesses should examine for manageability, risks, and benefits
Managing Windows 8.1 configuration options helps deliver a more familiar Windows user interface and may smooth the transition from Windows 7 and Windows XP
Improvements to VPN support in Windows and Windows RT 8.1 may make supporting VPN connections from non-IT managed devices easier
Windows 8.1 improves malware resistance, adds biometric support, and includes features to simplify remote access, making it a more attractive upgrade from previous versions
To benefit from improved Windows OS security features, such as secure boot or drive encryption, IT departments should update procurement specifications to include built-in hardware security technologies (UEFI and TPM)
Planning and deployment tools, many free, can help customers deploy Windows client and server OSs quicker, with fewer errors, in a scalable, repeatable manner, and make more efficient use of IT skills
Microsoft has provided guidance for application compatibility with Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2
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