A new era of touch computing


Neomobile’s insight into the new Windows 8 and its features

Microsoft has been reinventing Windows for the expanded IT spectrum, from the chipset to the user experience. Although Microsoft has spent enormous effort expanding the core plumbing of Windows, much of the reinvention of Windows is in the UI…. With the Metro UI, Microsoft seeks to establish a new common user interaction model that can be shared and reused across devices and systems. With Windows 8, the stakes are even higher. Microsoft made bold changes in its operating system to make it more appealing to mobile users. The system is designed to work on traditional and mobile devices, and users can control the system by keyboard and mouse or, in some cases, by touch.

On April 16, 2012, Microsoft officially announced that Windows 8 will be available in four main editions:

Windows RT is the mobile solution that uses the same Arm chip that is found in many smartphones and tablets, particularly the iPad. Windows RT PCs are built for fun, life on the go, and getting things done. They are sleek and thin, have truly extraordinary battery life, and are all set up for touch. You may not have noticed that there is no 8 in the Windows RT name. This is because Windows RT does not offer up a full Windows 8 experience. The RT stands for Run Time – confusing, we know, but very important. So, don’t go out and buy yourself the Surface for Windows 8 Pro and expect to get just the RT, Metro-style experience.

Windows 8 is the consumer version that excludes a lot of the business-type features like drive encryption, group policy and virtualization. However, you will have access to the Windows Store, Live Tiles, Remote Desktop Client, VPN Client and other features.

Windows 8 Pro is the edition of Windows 8 for the PC enthusiast and business/technical professionals. It includes everything found in 8 plus features like BitLocker encryption, PC virtualization, domain connectivity and PC management. Definitely geared towards corporate environments.

Windows 8 Enterprise includes all that Windows 8 Pro has, but geared towards enterprise customers with Software Assurance agreements.

Explore Windows 8 Features

All versions of Windows 8 include common built-in apps including Mail, Calendar, Messaging, Photos, SkyDrive, and Internet Explorer 10, as well as the ability to install apps from the Windows Store. There are also security and updates via Windows Defender, Windows Firewall, and Windows Update. Other features include: SmartScreen, Enhanced Task Manager, switch languages on the fly (Language Packs), better multiple monitor support, Exchange ActiveSync, file history, ISO/VHD mount, mobile broadband features, picture password, Play To, Remote Desktop (client), reset and refresh your PC, Snap, Touch and Thumb keyboard, trusted boot, and VPN client. Windows 8 Enterprise features includes all the capabilities that customers get with Windows 8 Pro, plus premium features designed to provide the mobile productivity, security, manageability and virtualization needs of today’s businesses. Here’s an overview of some of the key features that will be available exclusively to Windows 8 Enterprise customers (and note this is not an exhaustive list):

Windows To Go is one of the innovative new features in Windows 8. This new feature is a portable configuration of the operating system that enables many new deployment scenarios and can streamline an organization’s implementation of bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives.

DirectAccess allows remote users to seamlessly access resources inside a corporate network without having to launch a separate VPN and helps IT administrators keep remote users’ PCs in compliance by applying the latest policies, software updates, is easier to deploy, and it can be implemented with the existing IPv4 infrastructure.

BranchCache allows users’ PCs to cache files, websites, and other content from central servers, so content is not repeatedly downloaded across the wide area network (WAN). When used with Windows Server 2012, Windows 8 brings several improvements to BranchCache to streamline the deployment process, optimize bandwidth over WAN connections and ensure better security and scalability.

AppLocker can help mitigate issues by restricting the files and apps that users or groups are allowed to run.

VDI enhancements in Microsoft RemoteFX and Windows Server 2012, provide users with a rich desktop experience with the ability to play 3D graphics, use USB peripherals and use touch-enabled devices across any type of network (LAN or WAN) for VDI scenarios.

New Windows 8 App Deployment domain joined PCs and tablets running Windows 8 Enterprise will automatically be enabled to side-load internal, Windows 8 Metro style apps.

Free update for Windows 8 is coming later in the year

On March 26, 2013, Microsoft officially acknowledged Windows “Blue”, the internal code name for an update to Windows 8. This update is coming later in the year under the banner of Windows 8.1. Windows Blue is a new version of the Windows 8 operating system which Microsoft is working on. Instead of releasing service packs, Microsoft will issue new versions of the OS much like Apple does with OS X.

Windows 8.1 introduces new manageability, mobility, security, user experience and networking capabilities. As a reminder, Windows 8.1 will be available later this year as a free update for all consumers through the Windows Store (much like how app updates are handled).

Windows 8.1 unveiled: will it change your mind about Windows 8?

According to this year’s American customer satisfaction index report, Microsoft’s customer satisfaction rating has now fallen to its lowest level since Windows Vista launched in 2007 despite racking up respectable license sales.  Microsoft will look to reverse the souring user sentiment later this year when it launches Windows 8.1, which will reportedly see Microsoft’s Start button return along with an option to boot and log in directly to desktop mode. In the meantime, however, the damage has been done. Could Windows 8.1 regain share in PC Market?  Stay tuned…


Christian Ramirez

*Editor’s note: the author was a Neomobile emloyee until 2013


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