Microsoft has made good on its promise to release its software at a faster cadence with the release of Windows 8.1 today with some features that may grab the attention of IT.
This means you can now download Windows 8.1 from the Windows Store and upgrade your Windows 8 PC. But should enterprise users care?
If you use Windows 8 at home or in your workplace, sure. Now you can take advantage of the pseudo-Start button, boot up your system in the familiar desktop mode, and have better support for multitasking.
IT administrators may also want to consider Windows 8.1. The community was part of the Windows 8.1 second wave of release to manufacturing version (they should have been part of the first wave), and now they can evaluate a final copy of the operating system which offers more enterprise management and security features, including biometrics.
Depending upon the version of Windows 8.1 — Pro or Enterprise – the software provides IT administrators with more control by enabling domain group/policies, support for BitLocker encryption, work folders, workplace join and open mobile device management. There also is a tighter integration with Internet Explorer 11.
However, we all know that many enterprises are not ready to adopt the Windows 8 platform as this would mean not only a software upgrade but also a hardware upgrade to take advantage of touch capabilities. And, many of them just spent a lot of money moving from Windows XP to the stable Windows 7 operating system, as Windows XP end of life looms.
But take note: mainstream support for Windows 7 ends January 13, 2015. At that time, the industry enters the five year extended support phase, which ends on January 14, 2020. At that point we’re back to square one of migrating businesses off of Windows 7 to whatever version of Windows is going to be out at that time.
Businesses will probably take advantage of the extended support phase, as they have with Windows XP. The Windows 8 platform is still in evaluation mode among many enterprises.
CIOs and CTOs say they want IT administrators to gain a better understanding of the company’s business, its employees and market trends so that they think more strategically when it comes time to make technology decisions.
It’s only a matter of time before enterprises have to think about the tried and true Windows 7 going away and the industry entering another cycle of major upgrades. IT pros: be prepared.