Windows XP support is soon to expire, so many organizations will be upgrading their desktops to Windows 8. Microsoft's latest operating system has raised almost as many questions for enterprise desktop administrators as it addressed prior problems or needs. Windows 8.1 features include tighter security, biometrics support and more, but IT shops and users were initially wary of its touchcentric user interface.
Now that Windows 8 has been out for a while, it's a good time to review what the OS can and can't do. We collect expert advice on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 features, including security, workarounds and even Windows 8 alternatives. User retraining and application compatibility are other considerations.
Whether you've already migrated from Windows XP to Windows 8, are weighing it against Windows 7 or another OS, or are waiting for the rumored Windows 9, these articles should help you decide how to survive in this brave new world.
1Know what Windows 8 can do-
Windows 8 features roundup
Once you get past the user interface, there's still a lot to learn about Windows 8 for the enterprise. Weigh the pros and cons for your organization, see how Windows 8.1 features improve on those of Windows 8, and get some guidance on how to find utilities in the new OS.
If you're in a bring your own device (BYOD) environment, see how Windows 8 supports mobile computing and what the app store can do for you.
Not many of the changes in Windows 8 Task Manager are obvious, but there are some definite improvements, including processes displayed by default, the services tab and resource consumption. See which features are worth another look. Continue Reading
Microsoft's Windows 8.1 update comes with many shiny features, some of which will empower users and admins in the know. There still are, however, limitations to avoid. Continue Reading
Windows 8 can be tricky to navigate, so you may have questions about locating Windows 8 applications and files. Check out this FAQ for answers. Continue Reading
As software is developed for the Windows 8 app store, IT will find more tools for enterprise users. We look at some examples of Windows 8 apps for storage, scanning and SharePoint. Continue Reading
Near-field communication printing and the Open MDM application programming interface are among the reasons to consider Microsoft's latest OS for BYOD management. Continue Reading
2Controlling Windows 8 desktops-
Windows 8 features for security
Better security is usually sufficient cause to migrate to a newer OS, especially if the move is combined with a hardware refresh. However, the rise of mobile and cloud technologies makes ensuring control over enterprise apps and data more urgent.
Maintaining security might be easier with Windows 8 features, but you still need to know where potential vulnerabilities are and how to address them. Fortunately, IT admins have several tools for at their disposal, including Group Policy settings, BitLocker and Work Folders.
As we continue our look at new Windows 8.1 Group Policy settings, our expert discusses how to change the Windows 8 configuration for the Edge user interface, SkyDrive and more. Continue Reading
Not only can Windows To Go pose risks to sensitive data if USB drives are lost, but data can also leak. Learn how to use BitLocker and other measures for Windows 8 security. Continue Reading
Features for Windows 8.1 security include expanded support for biometrics with the Windows Biometric Framework, fingerprint-based authentication and Windows Store apps. Continue Reading
Microsoft's Erwin Visser discusses Windows 8.1 features, how Microsoft will help IT deal with faster update cycles, and new Windows security measures. Continue Reading
Windows 8 security, particularly for mobile users, is getting a boost from five new Windows 8.1 features. They include remote wipe capabilities, biometric support and more. Continue Reading
Microsoft has delivered some enterprise-class Windows 8.1 features, including integrated security and management capabilities. Will they entice enterprise IT to roll out the OS? Continue Reading
Syncing files while staying secure is a common BYOD concern. Work Folders in the Windows 8.1 update help control cloud file sharing, but you have to know how to configure them. Continue Reading
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3Options beyond Windows 8-
Windows 8 alternatives and workarounds
If you've moved to Windows 8 but still find Windows 8.1 features lacking, or if you're looking at Windows 8 alternatives, you have options. There are additional Microsoft and third-party tools, alternative OSes, and Windows 8 workarounds that can make life a little easier.
In addition, some businesses are considering virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and BYOD, not as uses for Windows 8 but as ways to avoid having to migrate. Just be aware that mixed or non-Windows 8 setups come with their own security risks.
Windows 8 app compatibility is a concern of IT admins, and Microsoft offers tools to help with Windows legacy apps. Virtualization can be a workaround, but Windows 8 lacks XP Mode. Continue Reading
Windows 8 is more secure than previous Microsoft OSes, partly because of Windows Defender. Is it worth using, or should IT rely on third-party security anti-malware software? Continue Reading
Microsoft has improved full-disk encryption and other Windows 8 BitLocker features, but lingering concerns mean IT should weigh the free tool's benefits against alternatives. Continue Reading
Microsoft left out a Windows 8 media player from its standard operating system release, so users will need to add Media Center or find third-party products for Windows 8 DVD playback. Continue Reading
4Reader questions answered-
Experts weigh in on Windows 8 features
IT and users have asked lots of questions about Windows 8 workarounds, Windows 8.1 features and whether the OS is worth migrating to. Our experts have answered some of your questions, and if you have more, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some people are confused about Windows 8 features, such as the Windows 8 interface and usability. Our expert looks for the cold, hard Windows 8 facts. Continue Reading
Not willing to wait for Microsoft to restore the Windows 8 Start menu to a more familiar look? Our expert explains how to get the Windows 7 Start menu in Windows 8. Continue Reading
Does the combination of the Trusted Platform Module and Windows 8 create the threat of a backdoor into sensitive systems? Continue Reading
There are good reasons to migrate to Windows 8, but a few Windows 8 drawbacks could be deal-breakers for some who might want to wait for Windows 9. Continue Reading
5Terms to remember-
Windows 8 definitions
Most of Microsoft's terminology around Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 features should be familiar to users of Windows XP through Windows 7. There are a few, however, that can still cause confusion, specifically those around the controversial interface and apps. If you're praising, questioning or criticizing Windows 8, make sure you're using the correct language.