3 Points to Consider Before Optimising Your Workstations for Windows 8

With Windows 8 officially on the market, there are several aspects of the newly-released operating system that enterprises should evaluate before deciding to plan for transitioning.

The enterprise technology landscape, always prone to rapid transformation, is evolving yet again due in large part to the BYOD phenomenon and the growing availability of tablets and smart phones. Before optimising your company’s workstations for Windows 8, there are three critical things to be mindful of now to streamline the switch.

1. BYOD integration: Windows 8 has a user learning curve; one challenge will be integrating different applications from the new OS with each of your employee’s well-worn platforms.  Because Windows 8 is the first operating system meant to translate across desktop, PC and mobile devices, it’s probably best for companies to test the OS on multiple devices to gauge accessibility on each. Furthermore, companies may want to consider which employees might be better candidates for using the OS, such as staff members who travel often, or work in remote locations.

Companies integrating BYOD into their IT policies should look into Windows RT, a “lighter” version of the OS, specifically designed for mobile devices and tablets. Microsoft claims Windows RT is designed to preserve battery life and is compatible with smaller and less expensive devices. Users may find, however, that they can’t run some traditional business software. The system won’t run any desktop Windows applications aside from the applications packaged with it, which excludes Outlook. Businesses should also be especially wary of the inability for Windows RT to connect to a Windows Active Directory Domain, a service that essentially enforces security policies on computers in a network.

2. Security implications: Implementing Windows 8’s new safety features may take some getting used to. Due to the complexity of new hacking techniques, software developers have restructured how users access corporate data. A new addition to Windows 8 is a graphical password, targeted to tablet users, which requires users to connect dots to gain access. A key part of the operating system’s strengthened security is its Secure Boot mode, which combats low-level security exploits and malware. Also to note: In recent years, browsers have become points of entry for security breaches. Windows 8 features a more secure Internet Explorer browser, enhanced with a permission configuration called AppContainer.

3. App store utilisation: In Windows 8, Microsoft has included a new app store that may one day compete with Apple’s own App store. The store boasts a revenue-sharing plan for apps that generate $25,000 or more, fewer regulations for app developers and mostly free apps. The mobile operating system can be extended to PCs directly without processing through store infrastructure. Through Windows 8, enterprise IT administrators have the ability to dictate employee access to company-specific apps. With this power, IT departments can customise their company app management and software experience for Windows 8. However, custom apps only available to employees or IT departments must be deployed manually and not through the app store for Windows 8.

Even if you get a good handle on these three areas of consideration when optimising for Windows 8, your organisation might still want to take advantage of outside consulting to make the upgrade more seamless. An IT provider that can offer assistance with desktop deployment, desktop support and volume licensing can take much of the headache out of your Windows 8 upgrade.

To learn more about integrating Windows 8 into your enterprise, download the video highlights version of our recent Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 event held at Microsoft Australia headquarters in Sydney.

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