The upcoming release of any new operating system is a trying time for an organisation's IT staff.
Not only is the learning curve quite steep when it comes to the new features and user interfaces that updated operating systems usually bring to the table, IT staffers also have to cope with potential change management issues and the impact that a new software solution can have on management infrastructure and compatibility.
“While these issues are a given, regardless of how smooth the changeover to a new operating system in an enterprise is, one must ensure that the benefits offered by the upgrade outweigh the potential challenges,” says Traci Maynard, general manager of the software division at Tarsus Technologies.
“And from early reports we've managed to get from the market, it seems like Microsoft is really putting its best foot forward,” she says.
When it comes to IT management capabilities, Maynard says enterprise customers who elect to acquire Windows 8 on Software Assurance will have the ability to subscribe to the Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack (MDOP) and make use of Windows Intune for improved management and security of devices interacting with their network.
“MDOP helps enterprise customers take advantage of desktop virtualisation, manage Windows features and restore user productivity after a system issue,” she says.
“Windows Intune, on the other hand, offers PC management and security from virtually anywhere via the cloud,” Maynard adds.
The next release of Windows Intune will support mobile device management, a self-service company portal and the ability to leverage user accounts, in addition to several other enhancements.
“The most exciting feature enabled by Intune is the ability to manage multiple devices for each employee within the enterprise – something that's becoming increasingly important as mobility takes hold and the consumerisation of IT trend continues to drive on,” she says.
Of course, Maynard says there are other features that enterprises would be interested in.
“These include 'Windows To Go', a fully manageable corporate Windows 8 desktop on a bootable external USB stick; 'BranchCache', which allows users' PCs to cache files, Web sites and other content from central servers so that this content is not repeatedly downloaded across the wide area network (WAN); 'AppLocker', which can restrict access to files and apps that users or groups are allowed to run; and a new Windows 8 app deployment paradigm, which enables domain joined PCs and tablets running Windows 8 Enterprise to automatically side-load internal Windows 8 Metro style apps.
“These features respond strongly to the criticism that Windows 8 is focused on the consumer market alone,” she says.
“Today, I really wouldn't have any reservations about recommending Windows 8 to enterprises. I believe it's going to be a real hit,” she concludes.