Here comes Windows 8

Anticipation for Windows 8 has been fierce because of some major changes to the look and feel of the operating system.  Here is a basic rundown on some of the new and improved features of both Windows 8 Pro and Enterprise so you’ll know what to expect as the release date draws near. The following will help you decide which version will prove to be more useful for you and your business/organization.

Windows 8 Pro

Windows 8 Pro replaces Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate and is aimed at business users and technical professionals. It is now available.

Features

Windows Store and Apps. Windows 8 will provide its users with access to the upcoming Windows Store. The Windows Store will feature both free and paid applications and will aim for greater transparency than Apple’s App Store and iTunes store. Some of the apps that come with Windows 8 include Bing Finance, Bing Maps, Bing Weather, Calendar, Camera, Mail, Messaging, Photos, SkyDrive (a cloud storage app), and Reader.

Internet Explorer 10. Both versions of Internet Explorer 10 – a traditional desktop browser and a Metro-style, touch-friendly browser – are included with Windows 8. Internet Explorer 10 has many new features, including support for HTML5, integrated Flash, and integrated spellcheck with autocorrect.

Updated Windows Explorer. Windows Explorer in Windows 8 will feature the Ribbon interface that Windows users will recognize from Microsoft Office. 

Smartscreen. SmartScreen is a feature that prevents unknown, potentially malicious, and known-to-be malicious applications from running. SmartScreen was included as a feature in both Internet Explorer 8 and 9, and is now integrated into Windows 8. Its integration into the operating system itself is due to the popularity of web browsers other than Internet Explorer; now SmartScreen in Windows 8 can check applications downloaded by such browsers as Firefox and Chrome.

Improved support for multiple monitors. For users who have a multi-monitor setup, there is increased taskbar efficiency – the #1 request from users with multi-monitor setups using Windows 7. Also, in Windows 7, the Start menu was only accessible from one monitor; in Windows 8, it can be accessed from any monitor – along with the clock and recently-used apps. Plus, considering the two different styles of browsers with Internet Explorer 10, it is simple to run desktop apps and Metro apps side-by-side.

Client Hyper-V. This feature makes it simple to test applications in different operating systems on virtual machines without requiring server-class hardware. Client Hyper-V has all the same features as Hyper-V, which was originally only available in Windows Server but is now available in Enterprise (see below). This means that virtual machines can be moved between Client Hyper-V and Hyper-V if need be.

Windows 8 Enterprise

Windows 8 Enterprise is available to Software Assurance customers, and is also available via MSDN and Technet Professional subscriptions.  Windows 8 Enterprise provides all the features in Windows 8 Pro, plus these additional enhanced features aimed at IT organization:

AppLocker. AppLocker is a feature of Windows 8 Enterprise that enables administrators to control what is allowed to run in their desktop environment. AppLocker offers security protection and operational benefits by preventing unlicensed software and unauthorized applications (including malware) from running in the desktop environment. AppLocker can also prevent users from running applications that use up bandwidth unnecessarily and/or destabilize the desktop environment, while allowing users to run approved applications and install software updates. This feature also facilitates effective desktop configuration and ensures that the desktop environment complies with both company policies and industry regulations.

Hyper-V. Hyper-V is a useful feature for developers, IT professionals, and enthusiasts. It is a virtualization tool that allows users to run multiple operating systems and environments on one computer. This feature enables users to run and quickly switch between test environments, and requires no additional hardware.

Windows to Go. Windows to Go is a feature that allows users to boot a Windows 8 workspace from a USB drive on a Windows 7 or Windows 8 capable PC. A more detailed list of features of and requirements for Windows to Go is available at: technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831833.aspx

DirectAccess. As in Windows 7, DirectAccess is a feature based on virtual private network (VPN) technology. This allows mobile users to access corporate networks, making it a very useful feature in the “bring-your-own-device” (BYOD) era.

Windows 8 promises to be a versatile and exciting operating system. Call us and we'll go over Windows 8 with you to determine  your organization's upgrade path.

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