Is Windows 8 Enterprise-Ready?

In a focused keynote on Day Two of its TechEd 2012 conference, Microsoft made its case that Windows 8 is ready for business and will be a welcome addition to the enterprise.

ORLANDO, Fla. €” In a broad-ranging keynote at TechEd 2012 set to establish Windows 8 as a viable tool for business, Microsoft demonstrated several key technologies the company hopes will make the upcoming OS welcome in the enterprise.

At TechEd North America 2012 here, Microsoft did its best to detail the value Windows 8 brings to businesses through enhanced fundamentals, new enterprise features and strong application compatibility. The company also announced updates to several Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) products to help organizations manage, secure and enhance the Windows experience.

€œWindows 8 is enterprise-ready by design,€ said Antoine Leblond, corporate vice president for Windows Web Services at Microsoft, in a statement. €œAdding features that bring new possibilities in mobility, productivity and security, Windows 8 will delight developers, IT professionals and the employees they support.€

Leblond, who delivered the TechEd Day Two keynote, called Windows 8 the €œthird leg€ in Microsoft€™s enterprise play for businesses, joining Windows Server 2012 and Windows Azure as the other two components.

€œWith Windows 8, you don€™t have to compromise; you can pick up a tablet, a laptop or a desktop,€ Leblond said.

Moreover, now available for download are updates to several MDOP products, which enable organizations to virtualize, manage and restore data, applications and users€™ experiences on Windows, including the beta for Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) 2.0, which makes it easier for enterprises to protect data with BitLocker and BitLocker To Go by using Windows 8 support to simplify the provisioning process, monitoring and enforcing compliance for improved security, and reducing the cost of managing an encrypted environment by integrating with existing managements systems, while empowering users to support themselves with a self-service recovery portal. A download of the beta is available here.

Meanwhile, during an on-stage demonstration of Windows on ARM, Linda Averett, director of program management for the developer experience in Windows, showed a quick snapshot of what Excel will look like on a Windows on ARM tablet. The software was identified as a preview of €œOffice 2013 RT.€ RT is short for Windows RT, which is Microsoft€™s name for its Windows on ARM platform.

Averett demonstrated several enterprise-friendly features of Windows 8, including the BitLocker technology and Windows to Go by moving a copy of Windows 8 to an old Dell desktop PC via a USB drive. Averett also demonstrated the use of Windows 8 on touch-enabled laptops and on laptops with mouse, keyboard and touchpad only.

Microsoft also announced that Both the Microsoft Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM) 4.0 Service Pack 1 beta and release candidate for the Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) 8 are available today, providing support for Windows 8 Release Preview. The download of AGPM beta is available here, and the download of the DaRT 8 release candidate is available here.

In addition, the second beta for User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) also will be available by the end of the month. UE-V is designed to give individuals the ability to change their device and keep their experience without reconfiguring applications or settings in Windows 7 or Windows 8. New features in the second beta include roaming system settings between Windows 7 and Windows 8; support for additional operating system settings, like start menu, task bar and folder options; Group Policy support to ensure agent configuration consistency; and the roaming and sync of settings between Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10.

Microsoft says users who wish to download Windows 8 Release Preview and test it in the business environment should go here.