Windows 8.1, which will launch in preview on June 26th, isn’t just about bringing the Start button back. For Microsoft, it’s also an opportunity to get businesses of all sizes to take another look at an operating system they have mostly ignored. Today, at its TechEd conference in New Orleans, the company provided new details about the features it is adding to Windows 8.1 to make it more attractive for businesses and enterprise IT departments.
Microsoft says it built Windows 8 “to bring the most powerful and modern computing experience to businesses and to help professionals stay connected to their colleagues and clients from anywhere, anytime.” The next version will build on this and add a number of new “manageability, mobility, security, user experience and networking capabilities.”
BYOD, NFC Tap-To-Pair Printing, Selective Remote Wipe And More
One area Microsoft is especially addressing with this update is the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement. Microsoft is making it easier for users to join their workplace domains with their own devices, for example. With this, IT administrators can grant registered users access to some resources while enforcing their own rules, for example. Also new in Windows 8.1 will be easier ways to allow users to sync folders with their corporate data centers, which is possible because syncing will be integrated natively into the file system. Windows 8.1 also adds a number of device-management tools to the operating system that should help IT administrators manage all of these devices.
One feature IT administrators will definitely appreciate in Windows 8.1 is the ability to selectively wipe corporate content from devices. Corporate data, Microsoft writes, “can now be identified as corporate vs. user, encrypted, and wiped on command using EAS or EAS + OMA-DM protocol.”
For those who still need to print documents, Microsoft is adding NFC tap-to-pair printing, which should make setting up new printers and devices a bit easier (and companies can also just put an NFC sticker on a printer that isn’t already NFC-enabled). Windows 8.1. will also allow users to print directly to Wi-Fi Direct printers without the need to install drivers.
Windows 8.1 will also now support embedded wireless radios and mobile broadband-enabled PCs or tablets can now be turned into Wi-Fi hotspots.
Other improvements include improved biometrics, pervasive device encryption and, of course, the return of the Start button and boot to desktop. You can read more about all of the details here and here.