By David Chew

PC users have traditionally relied upon an iOS or Android
companion device to reap the productivity benefits of BYOD, but the
touch-enabled interface enabled by Windows 8 eliminates the numerous challenges
of this approach.

more information about Windows 8.1, check out the TechRepublic Fact sheet.

With the Windows 8.1 update scheduled for general availability
in mere months, it’s important to understand what to expect from the new
system. Windows 8.1 provides enterprise-level upgrades that give users a
consistent computing experience across devices, but it may require
infrastructure upgrades to experience the full benefits of the platform.

A significant upgrade

While 8.1 is not a completely new operating system, it is a significant
upgrade, and shouldn’t be viewed simply as a service pack.

Below is a list of 10 ways that Windows 8.1 can benefit the

  1. Extended Mobility: While
    most companies have a mobile strategy in place for certain segments of the
    business, concerns over bandwidth of IT, technical support, device management,
    and other issues often prevent them from expanding to provide mobility to more
    of the workforce Windows 8.1 eliminates much of that trepidation, enabling
    organizations to extend the productivity benefits of mobility to a wider
    range of employees. It’s a more universal
    management experience for IT as well, because they can manage Windows 8.1 PCs
    as mobile devices without having to deploy a full management client.
  2. Tablet Adoption: The
    proliferation of Windows 8-enabled hardware means that enterprises can
    standardize on the operating system, but still allow individual end-users
    to select their device of preference and have a consistent interface
    across these devices. While this includes desktops, laptops, and Windows
    phones, the tablet is becoming a more versatile and popular device in the
    enterprise. Windows 8.1 is able to support this wider adoption of tablets.
  3. Application Innovation:
    Windows 8.1 enables organizations to develop applications that can work
    seamlessly across mobile and traditional devices. This is a particularly
    critical benefit for the many developers with deep expertise in the
    Windows operating system who previously have been unable to apply their
    skills fully to mobile applications. The Windows Store has a redesigned
    interface and now includes more than 100,000 modern apps, giving users
    either on a tablet or a PC a more fluid, unified experience.
  4. IT Support: Having to
    troubleshoot different devices and platforms has turned out to be one of
    the chief support headaches for IT staff. I’ll enumerate some of these
    frustrations in greater detail below, but standardizing on Windows 8.1
    allows IT to become much more streamlined in its support and reduce a
    significant amount of the complexity associated with enterprise mobility.
    Enterprises that are not standardizing and forcing IT to stretch to
    support many iterations of the Windows OS are severely straining
  5. Cost Reduction:
    Standardizing on Windows 8.1 eliminates the licensing and support costs of
    a heterogeneous environment. In addition, the costs associated with
    application development, support, and maintenance are reduced because
    everything is centered on a single operating system. For example, the new
    Workplace Join feature (some features require SCCM 2012 R2, DAC and PKI)
    would allow a user to work on the device of his or her choice, but still
    have access to corporate resources. Workplace Join also gives IT greater
    security control in a BYOD environment.
  6. Resource Optimization:
    Because Windows 8.1 facilitates restoration of the operating system to
    factory settings, enterprises can save the time and money associated with
    sending IT personnel to redeploy technologies when something goes awry. This
    feature can result in significant savings for enterprises that support thousands
    of users and would be of significant benefit for remote workers.
  7. Streamlined Operations: An
    ancillary resource benefit of Windows 8.1 is that IT departments need to
    create only one user guide and any other support materials for every
    application developed. Again, this might not seem like a significant
    saving at the outset, but when you consider the impact for an enterprise
    supporting thousands of users the benefit quickly becomes apparent. As
    with the 8.1 service pack for Windows 8 future service packs are expected
    to provide new features not just fixes. These feature updates have the
    potential to drive training and support document updates with greater
  8. Reduced End-User
    By offering a consistent computing experience across devices, Windows
    8 significantly reduces user confusion and related support requests, freeing
    IT staff to focus on more strategic projects or other revenue-generating
    activities. When a user enrolls a device, it
    joins the device to the Windows Intune management service (one of the new
    technologies that requires current infrastructure). The user gets access
    to the Company Portal, which provides a consistent experience for access
    to the applications, data, and device settings. The self-help portal
    within the service desk allows end-users to troubleshoot on their own.
  9. Enhanced Security: Windows 8.1 offers a number of
    security enhancements, including Remote Business Data Removal and enhanced
    Internet Explorer. Remote Business Data Removal gives enterprises greater
    control over encrypted content that can be wiped when it is no longer
    needed. In addition to greater speed and customized app settings, Internet
    Explorer now enables an anti-malware solution to scan binary extensions to
    help stop the execution of known and unknown malware.
  10. Partner Education: Because
    Microsoft will no longer maintain Windows XP after April 2014, any
    organization considering an upgrade should weigh the advantages of Windows
    8.1. The platform offers a range of benefits and solutions to solve
    manageability, mobility, and security challenges. A technology partner
    expert in Windows 8.1 can help organizations educate themselves about the
    new version, determine how it fits into their existing infrastructure and
    execute the appropriate migration plans.

By David Chew,
Solutions Architect, Unisys

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