OK, so let’s assume that — just for grins — an enterprise might be willing to ask the question: “What’s in Windows 8 for my kind of business computing needs?” Michael Otney, a regular contributor to WindowsITPro, takes a stab at answering that question in his 11/21/2012 story entitled “Top 10: Windows 8 Enterprise Features.” Of these features, several carry over from Windows 7/Windows Server 2008, including DirectAccess, BranchCache, and AppLocker, with BitLocker having been introduced with Vista. One feature really isn’t a feature at all — it’s simply the existence of a Windows 8 Enterprise edition, aimed at that eponymous class of user or organization (an Enterprise edition also goes back to Vista and was available for Windows 7 as well).
Here’s a list of his features (sans the edition itself), in alphabetical order, that here include pointers to useful overview and tutorial information:
AppLocker: administrative controls to determine what applications are permitted to run on a Windows machine, much like the software restriction policies introduced in Windows Server 2003. Provides controls over executable files, installer files, and DLLS. 4Sysops has a peachy 4-part tutorial on this subject/technology.
BitLocker: full disk encryption for Windows that works at the volume level, also available for removable media in a form named BitLocker To Go. MyWindows8.org has a nice tutorial on how to use this technology in the newest Windows desktop OS.
BranchCache: a technology for copying content from a central data center or host cloud content server at a branch office location, to enable local client access to content. TechNet offers a great BranchCache overview, and a complete Windows Server 2012 BranchCache Deployment Guide is also available from MS.
Client Hyper-V: a complete Type 0 hypervisor, Hyper-V is now included in Windows 8. Microsoft offers an excellent overview on TechNet, entitled simply “Client Hyper-V.” For a great discussion of Client Hyper-V, including a comparison with Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode, see Paul Thurrott’s “Virtualize with Hyper-V” Windows 8 Tip.
DirectAccess: a remote access technology that supports automatic, direct, secure links without requiring use of a VPN connection. MS offers an interesting deployment guide entitled “Work Smart: Connecting Remotely Using Windows 8 DirectAccess.” Deb Shinder also offers some great coverage in a What’s New? piece on this topic.
RAM size: Windows 8 ups the ante on memory sizes considerably for x64 processors: the base level OS supports up to 128 GB, and both Windows 8 Pro and Enterprise support up to 512 GB, with a maximum of 2 physical CPUs — though up to 256 logical cores are supported on x64 CPUs.
RemoteFX: supports access to remote touch and USB devices for remote access and control applications, specifically designed to support “rich virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments. SearchVirtualDesktop’s “Fast Guide to Microsoft’s RemoteFX” is helpful, as are Microsoft’s Host Server and Personal Virtual Desktops Step-by-Step Guides.
Secure Boot: New to Windows 8, Secure Boot uses UEFI to store certificates for OSes permitted to load and run during boot-up, to stymie malware loads before an OS is running. This can be tricky stuff, but Intel’s (a chief developer of this technology) guide entitled “Microsoft Windows 8 – Enabling Secure Boot” covers all the important bases. For even more info consult these two books from Intel: Beyond BIOS and Harnessing the UEFI Shell.
Windows to Go: A way to encapsulate a complete, standalone Windows 8 runtime on a USB drive (a UFD of at least 32GB is required for this to work) for portable use. See Microsoft’s Windows To Go: Feature Overview, and its Step-by-Step tutorial, both on TechNet.
All in all, this makes for an interesting set of features and functions available to enterprise users. But it still begs the question as to whether any of these — or all of them taken together — constitute a sufficient inducement to get enterprises to migrate to Windows 8 sooner rather than later. Given the fact that many such organizations have only recently completed their migrations to Windows 7, methinks it is going to take at least 1-2 years for many of them to start developing any kind of enthusiasm for or interest in what Windows 8 has to offer the enterprise, features and functions notwithstanding.