The Windows 8 Consumer Preview release was issued recently with much fanfare and with a great number of analysts weighing in on their thoughts about the product. From outright derision to great optimism, the blogosphere is weighing in with opinions that run the gamut. In this blog, I'll provide five reasons that businesses may want to give Windows 8 a shot when it comes out.
Common user experience across devices
With Windows 8, Microsoft has revolutionized the user interface in an attempt to better marry the tablet and PC markets and to usher PCs more into the world of the user-friendly touch interface. As more and more organizations succumb to burgeoning BYOD initiatives and as more business find uses for tablets in the enterprise, this interface unification will make it easier for users to switch seamlessly between devices, enabling new use cases and expanding business opportunities.
Windows To Go
In short, Windows To Go allows you to run Windows 8 from a flash drive. It provides enterprises with ways to run Windows 8 from a USB drive even when older versions of Windows are installed on the host. The Windows To Go installation can include software applications that are necessary for the user to do his work.
Not all Windows features are available in Windows To Go, such as the ability to hibernate and go to sleep, but Windows To Go allows the user to carry the flash drive between computers and use that Windows installation anywhere he likes.
Push Button Reset
Ever since the advent of the registry - and even when we were still using INI files - Windows installations have had a tendency to get "dirty" and cluttered up over time. This clutter results in slow boot times, slower application performance, errors and no end to user complaints. Although more recent Windows versions don't carry as much cruft with them over time, with Windows 8, Microsoft has made it easier than ever for IT departments to correct issues that would have once required reimaging a PC, but there are some caveats.
This feature, named Push Button Reset, has two modes:
- Reset Your PC. Reset your PC to its factory state. All files, programs and other customizations are lost.
- Refresh Your PC. Similar to Reset Your PC, but retains user data and any Metro apps that have been installed. Here's the caveat: Traditional Windows programs aren't included; those need to be reinstalled after the refresh process completes.
Regardless of which method you choose, if you have other system management tools in place, such as System Center Configuration Manager, you can leverage these tools to repopulate a newly reset Windows 8 desktop, but the initial imaging process will be very fast. As such, a Push Button Reset feature can help corporate desktop users get back into production very quickly.
Faster boot time
Time is money. The longer that a user's PC takes to boot, the less productive that user can be. Further, as Microsoft positions Windows to complete against devices in new form factors, users simply won't stand for long boot times. Microsoft has demonstrated a Windows 8 boot process that takes 8 seconds. Yes, seconds.
New login options
From a security perspective, passwords alone are a pretty terrible form of authentication, which is why so many companies have adopted secondary login methods to gain access to systems and information. As the world moves toward touch interfaces, traditional passwords become even more cumbersome. In order to improve security, Windows 8 has added the ability to use gestures on a picture for login purposes. In short, you choose a picture and then perform gestures on that picture. The combination becomes your credentials. Windows remembers the points at which you started and ended certain gestures and the location on the pictures where you performed the gestures.
If you want to learn more about this feature, take a look at this MSDN article.
As the world becomes increasingly mobile, operating systems must evolve to leverage this newfound ability. Windows 8 includes native 3G and 4G capabilities. The operating system can detect your SIM card, determine the vendor and download the appropriate connection app from the Windows App Store, if it's available. From an IT support perspective, this is nice. It can make it much simpler to support.
Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive with CampusWorks, Inc. Scott is available for consulting, writing, and speaking engagements and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.