Microsoft is letting out more details about Windows 8 Enterprise. Among other directions in this edition designed for large companies, Microsoft is trying to provide IT departments with resources to handle the growing "bring your own device" trend.
Also known as the "consumerization of IT," BYOD means that more IT departments are having to provide support for consumer devices used for work by their employees.
Windows to Go, BranchCache
One of the features in the Enterprise edition is Windows to Go, which allows a corporate Windows 8 desktop to be carried on a bootable USB drive. In a post Wednesday on the company's Windows blog, where the new Enterprise details were revealed, Microsoft's senior director of Windows, Erwin Visser, said Windows to Go can give "contingent staff access to the corporate environment without compromising security."
There's also BranchCache, allowing users to cache content from central servers so that they don't need to repeatedly download it from a wide area network. Visser wrote that, when used in conjunction with Windows Server 2012, BranchCache allows IT to "streamline the deployment process, optimize bandwidth over WAN connections and ensure better security and scalability."
Other new features include DirectAccess, which will permit remote users to access a corporate network without a virtual private network, and provides IT administration tools for keeping the devices up to date with the latest policies and updates. The new AppLocker restricts the files and apps that selected users can run.
Software Assurance (SA) customers will be able to use Windows to Go on any authorized PC that has Windows SA, as well as on their own PC or other personal devices. Similarly, a new Companion Device License for Windows SA customers will optionally provide rights to a corporate desktop on up to four personal devices.
Virtual Desktop Access Rights for RT
Additionally, when used in conjunction with a Windows SA-licensed PC, the Windows RT edition for ARM devices will automatically receive extended Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) rights.
Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT, noted that VDA rights could allow access to legacy apps for ARM devices. Otherwise, Microsoft has noted that very few legacy apps will be available on ARM-based Windows 8 machines.
King also pointed out that BYOD is "a major concern for IT departments," so much so that management tools to deal with BYOD could be "a compelling reason for companies to consider upgrading to 8." Companies that have upgraded to Windows 7, he said, will be wondering why they should go through this again so soon.
Windows 8 Enterprise is one of four editions being released for the new OS. The others are Windows 8 and Windows Pro for x86 machines, and Windows RT for ARM devices, typically tablets and smartphones.
Other features in 8 Enterprise touted by Visser include better "end-to-end security," better manageability, and "the no-compromise business tablet that will mean businesses no longer have to choose between the functionality of a tablet or the productivity of a PC."