The past year has seen praise and condemnation of Microsoft's updated products, particularly Windows 8 and Office 2013. Desktop administrators and users like some Windows 8 features and hate others, notably the touchscreen-oriented user interface.
Our other retrospectives of the past year have looked at desktop security and all versions of the Windows operating system -- including Windows 8.1 -- but Windows 8, Office 2013 and Office 365 have held reader attention most. Fortunately for you, our expert contributors have done their best to deliver the facts to IT professionals. Check out the Windows 8 tips that piqued your and your peers' interest in 2013.
10. Windows features and drawbacks
If you take the user interface out of the Windows 8 discussion, there aren't a whole lot of reasons to dislike the OS. Some people -- IT pros and users alike -- might take issue with getting to the desktop and start menu, finding the Search utility, having to learn a whole new OS and dealing with application compatibilities.
9. You can go back to Windows 7
Downgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 7 can be a pain, but it doesn't have to be. When you're planning your downgrade, consider licensing and supportability, perform a hardware and software inventory and make a backup of each desktop configuration.
8. Application compatibility in Windows 8 XP Mode
XP Mode in Windows 7 helped make application compatibility issues a little easier to fix, but there isn't an XP Mode for Windows 8. Restoring backwards compatibility for legacy applications in Windows 8 will require virtual machines.
7. Using DocRecrypt to unlock Office documents
In Office 2013, DocRecrypt lets admins decrypt password-protected documents. So if a user leaves the company and takes his passwords with him, admins still have recourse to get access to locked documents.
6. Windows Defender is better than nothing
A desktop running Windows Defender, an anti-malware program built into Windows 8 and enabled by default, is better protected than a desktop with no security software, but third-party products from vendors such as Norton, Symantec and McAfee may be more protected from viruses and attacks.
5. What's the difference between UEFI and BIOS?
Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 have the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) to replace BIOS. The difference with BIOS is that UEFI provides enhanced control and manageability over the boot process, has more configurable options and supports more hardware types.
4. Office 2013 and 365 pricing woes
Microsoft Office used to be easy to understand, buy and license. Today, Office 365, Microsoft's cloud-based subscription Office program and Office 2013 come in a confusing array of packages and combinations. Learn what features you get with which package and at what price.
3. Office 2013 passwords are crackable
Office 2013 has new, presumably stronger password protection, but there are flaws in the implementation. To cover all your security bases, use full disk encryption on workstations and make sure you have the right network share and file permissions.
2. Features in Windows 8 Enterprise missing in Pro
Windows To Go, DirectAccess, RemoteFX, BranchCache, AppLocker and some other features are in Windows 8 Enterprise, but they're missing in Windows 8 Pro. If your shop needs those features, it's wise to go with the Enterprise version of the OS.
1. Windows 8.1 features: Trick or treat?
Power users beware! Though Microsoft's Windows 8.1 update comes with many shiny features -- some of which will empower users and admins in the know -- there are limitations.
This was first published in December 2013