Essential Guide

Post-XPalypse: Surviving a world changed by Windows 8.1 features

Windows XP is dying, so which Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 features do you care about -- or want to ignore? Take another look at our coverage of the operating system's interface, security, management tools and more.


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.


Windows 8 Task Manager: Finding and using its updated features

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


Weighing Windows 8 features: Windows 8 pros

Despite controversy around the user interface, there are plenty of Windows 8 features for both users and IT pros to love. Here's a look at eight potential Windows 8 benefits. Continue Reading


Weighing Windows 8 features: Windows 8 drawbacks

After looking at the pros, our columnist weighs in on Windows 8 drawbacks, starting with the Windows 8 user interface and how it affects user training. Continue Reading


Windows 8.1 features treat power users, but watch out for tricks

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


Getting to and managing Windows 8 applications and files

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


Windows 8 app store includes useful, free enterprise-class tools

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


New Windows 8.1 features can boost mobile device management

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.


Mind the gaps left by Windows 8 security features

Microsoft has touted its many improvements in Windows 8 security features, but industry observers note potential problems with third-party components and privacy. Continue Reading


Group Policy settings alter Windows 8 configuration, user interface

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


Windows To Go USB drives need Windows 8 BitLocker to secure data

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


Windows 8.1 biometrics support increases security, but do you need it?

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


Q&A: Microsoft's Erwin Visser on Windows 8.1 updates, security

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


Top five Windows 8 security features new to Windows 8.1

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


Windows 8.1 security, management enhancements entice enterprise IT

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


Bring some control to cloud file sharing with Windows 8.1 Work Folders

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


Five ways to maintain Windows 8.1 security

Microsoft has improved Windows 8.1 security, but no OS is free of vulnerabilities. Some basic settings can further protect Windows 8.x systems. Continue Reading

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.


Microsoft addresses legacy apps with Windows 8 app compatibility tools

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


Examining alternatives to Windows 8

While many enterprises are looking at Windows 8, some are considering alternative operating systems. Let's explore some Windows alternatives, as well as VDI and BYOD. Continue Reading


Comparing Windows Defender in Windows 8 vs. third-party malware tools

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


Looking at Windows 8 BitLocker full-disk encryption and alternatives

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 omits DVDs from Windows 8 media player, but it's fixable

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


Sorting fact from fiction about Windows 8 features

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


Lost and found with the Windows 8 start menu

Many early users of Windows 8 have been looking for a Windows 8 Start menu. Our expert explains where it went and how the Windows 8 interface could change with Windows 8.1. Continue Reading


Third-party products reskin the Windows 8 start menu for retro usage

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


Finding the best Windows 8 BitLocker alternatives

BitLocker Drive Encryption is limited to certain versions of Windows and requires a Trusted Platform Module. Our expert looks at two alternatives to Windows 8 BitLocker. Continue Reading


The backdoor threat of Trusted Platform Module and Windows 8

Does the combination of the Trusted Platform Module and Windows 8 create the threat of a backdoor into sensitive systems? Continue Reading


Are Windows 8 drawbacks enough to keep you from moving to Windows 8?

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.