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Those of you who were lucky enough to attend TechEd 2013 North America were able to hear first hand how Microsoft is transforming to meet the needs of businesses amidst its own transformation. Microsoft is currently maneuvering itself to better address said needs around BYOD, Mobility Security, and Modern User Interface experiences. It was a tall order to fill when Microsoft released Windows 8 and with the upcoming launch of Windows 8.1, enhanced via the opinions of current and future Microsoft customers, Microsoft does even more to address what is important to those currently using or considering deploying Windows 8 for business.
The "Bring Your Own Device" or BYOD movement has been on the minds of many as of late. This year BYOD extended beyond smartphones to tablets, notebooks and other devices. Enhancements brought forward to address BYOD are made available in Windows 8.1 and include:
Mobility is one of the cornerstone reasons why BYOD has been a consideration as of late. The traditional workstation and desktop computer are being replaced in favour of notebooks, tablets and even in some cases smartphones to allow workers to work from anywhere and anytime. Microsoft adheres to end user mobility needs by including the following into Windows 8.1:
Security is always top of mind for IT administrator and managers alike when deploying devices to be utilized in field. Microsoft further enhances security in Windows 8.1 by offering:
Experience enhancements were also a critical part of Windows 8.1's development. Changes to the user interface include:
This is short list of upcoming key features being made available in Windows 8.1 for business. Please note that Windows Server 2012 R2 may be required in order for some of these features to be available.
Further updates in terms of features will be made available when the Windows 8.1 Preview is released.
While this is all very clever, it doesn't address the elephant in the room that is the windows 8 start screen not actually being very good for people with lots and lots of apps.
I use Windows 8 at home - with 3rd party tools to replace the abomination that you guys seem to think is a satisfactory start menu - and I love the features in the newest version of Windows. But I have users that scream blue murder if an icon moves one place on their desktop - there is no way in hell I could justify the cost to my frontline support team of deploying Windows 8.
RobM - Interesting. What does the 3rd party app do to satisfy your requirements in terms of the multitude of apps that you utilize?
Anthony - I'd imagine he means it brings back the Start button and menu. We also wont roll Win8 out to our users because of the Start Screen. Forcing enterprise users to rely on a 3rd party app for a basic desktop environment is terrible.
I think the Metro screen should have stayed with the home edition. It's just completely unnecessary on a business desktop.
"Improvements made to better support users who prefer a mouse and keyboard experience to access applications."
…who 'PREFER' to use a mouse the keyboard? Don't you mean 99.9999% of corporate desktop users who do not have any form of touch screen whatsoever..?
I like the features, I really do... but as an IT Director, I can't pull the trigger on Windows 8 / Office 2013 / Exchange 2013. The UI design is so bad that it results in a direct loss of worker productivity. A significant drop in productivity. Whoever has been working on UI needs to be promptly fired, and Microsoft needs to be very careful to not alienate its primary growth driver - the enterprise adoption of its products.
mrgstiffler - What does the start button and menu provide that is business critical to your business?
AnonyM - The start screen, in many cases, has be come the "dashboard" for a lot of organizations. Utilizing tiles to constantly provide information most important to their business needs.
Dave - Touch screen utilization, while not wide spread, is growing rapidly in the advent of tablet and smartphone utilization. Microsoft has heard the request to better mouse and keyboard utilization in Windows 8 and has implemented changes to do so.
JustMIN - What specifically regarding the UI results in a significant drop in worker productivity? I have seen organization's embrace the UI and utilize live tiles to their advantage. I'd like to know more around your concern.
I am indeed talking about the start menu vs. start screen dilemna.
I'm actually setting up a Windows 8 machine for my nephew and niece today. They will be typical home users, with relatively few apps and I'm leaving them with the start menu. This is fine. They'll love it, I know, and I'm happy to set it up for them.
I work for a college where we have an incredibly large number (80+) of apps deployed onto each workstation. We've tested our deployment of these apps and our way of 'loading' the start menu with shortcuts, and it simply doesn't scale well in the Windows 8 start screen. I accept that we're an edge case but telling our users "sorry but we're just an edge case" isn't going to win anyone over any time soon.
We've actually tested windows 8 with a touch screen laptop and far fewer apps and it's a good user experience in that scenario, no doubt about that, but I've got ten touch screen users and several thousand "traditional" PC users.
I want a reputation as a IT person who does things *for* my user community rather than *to* them and right now Windows 8 will be something I've done to them, not for them.
RobM - You are not an edge case. That's how we've all felt. 8.1 is a step in the right direction but doesn't sound like enough. Seems like we're going to have another XP situation with Windows 7.
While I really like the start screen, on a non-touch device it is a hard sell to the average user. I think it should be a configurable option of the box - "I see you have a touch screen, which would you like to use?" The only thing I don't like about the start screen is the inability to turn off shortcuts being placed there every time a classic or modern app is installed - and the inability to pin websites using a non microsoft browser. The former is the default on Android but at least it can be manually changed in the play store.
The start screen shouldn't have more tiles than for one, maybe two screens side by side. I understand the concept and I like the rolling page but the average user gets overwelmed. Universal search should find everything else not listed. There should be a search tile - cannot tell you how many people have no idea on how to use charms or to even look for them.
For those of you who are managing larger sites - there is a lot of upside - what I am hearing from your comments is that you do not have the ability to migrate your users without extra effort on your part. Maybe that's the reality of budgets and lack of time - and maybe Microsoft should be making it easier but to simply not roll out new software is not so smart. Do you want everything virtualized? Enjoy users coming in with Macs and supporting them on your internal systems. You can either spend your efforts and lubricate the process now or be forced to work with new system later. It is as they saw, you can pay now or later but you are going to pay - you only get to choose when and how much.
Good stuff Anthony, looking forward to Miracast on Windows boxes. Will be looking for an opportunity to see someone lifting their laptop to NFC tap and send print jobs. *Smash* *Smash* why isn't this printing!!! LOL.
GBillings - "For those of you who are managing larger sites - there is a lot of upside - what I am hearing from your comments is that you do not have the ability to migrate your users without extra effort on your part. "
The fact is that we can find the resources for the effort, but the new start screen feels like a retrograde step to our users, in the trials we've conducted, even those who quickly get used to the Windows 8 interface feel it's harder to use, especially with the amount of apps we have.
And inflicting it on the users anyway because of the other benefits in enterprise managability that Windows 8 contains brings me back to doing things TO my user community instead of FOR my user community.