At our Build 2013 conference in June, we formally announced the availability of Windows 8.1 Preview and Windows RT 8.1 Preview.  If you’re interested in evaluating this pre-release of Windows 8.1 on non-production PCs, you can obtain the Preview bits at http://preview.windows.com.

Although much of the Build conference was targeted towards developers, lots of IT Pros are interested in the ways in which Windows 8.1 will improve enterprise end-user and management scenarios.  John Vintzel, Senior Program Manager on the Windows team, delivered a great session on the new features in Windows 8.1 for business organizations.  In this article, I’ll provide a summary of John’s session along with a clickable video index to the recording of this session.

What’s New in Windows 8.1 for the Enterprise?

Download a copy of this video and deck for offline viewing.

Session Index – What’s New in Windows 8.1 for the Enterprise?

  • [ 01:04 ] Changes in the Enterprise
    • Anywhere, anytime expectations from end-users
    • BYOD goes mainstream
    • Dynamic, connected, global environment
    • Increasing need to enable mobile professionals
    • Mobility demands have grown from 21% to 29% in past two years
    • 80% of all workers do work outside a traditional office
       
  • [ 02:30 ] Session Agenda: Windows 8.1 for the Enterprise
    • Best business tablet and more
    • Windows apps for business
    • Enterprise grade security
    • Empower BYOD
    • Mobility for the enterprise
       
  • [ 03:40 ] Windows 8.1: UI Enhancements
    • Start “tip” to easily transition between Desktop and Start Screen
    • Start Screen Improvements
    • See the desktop only when you need it
    • Leave the desktop only when you want to
    • Windowed and improved multi-monitor support
    • New search experience
       
  • [ 05:30 ] Apps for your business
    • Apps share screen
    • Multi-monitor support
    • Higher DPI support
    • New contracts for apps
    • High-precision touchpad
       
  • [ 08:15 ] Reliability and Power Efficiency
    • Maximizing Battery Life of Connected Standby mode
    • Connected Standby Support for both Wireless and Wired network adapters
    • Improved App Reliability for Background Apps
    • Background Transfers –
      • Notification when background transfers complete or fail
      • Optimized background transfers that can switch between network connections
         
  • [ 12:43 ] Mobile Broadband for Anywhere Connectivity
    • Windows 8.1 PCs can become a WIFI /mobile broadband hotspot
    • Auto-connect and disconnect capabilities to/from hotspot
    • Hardware OEMs integrating mobile broadband into System-on-Chip designs for improved battery life and smaller form factors.
       
  • [ 14:27 ] Printing Enhancements in Windows 8.1
    • Windows 8.1 makes printing simple and secure, from any device
    • Support for NFC tap-to-connect printing
    • Improved credential manager support for auto-mapping printers
    • Roaming printer information based on printer connectivity status
    • Support for WIFI-Direct printing
       
  • [ 17:55 ] Remote Desktop Enhancements in Windows 8.1
    • Touch-first, fast and fluid user experience
    • Remote Desktop and Remote App for BYOD scenarios
    • Reduced network bandwidth for Remote Desktop connections
    • Optimized reconnect time down to less than 10 seconds
    • RemoteFX GU Offload enhanced to reduce overhead by ~50%
       
  • [ 21:58 ] Workplace Join in Windows 8.1
    • Enables users to associate their BYOD devices with company’s Active Directory without a full domain join
    • Supported for Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 RT
    • Requires Windows Server 2012 R2
       
  • [ 23:01 ] DEMO: Workplace Join
     
  • [ 26:21 ] Web Application Proxy
    • Publish web applications to users from anywhere on any device
    • Can differentiate web applications published to domain-joined PCs, workplace-joined PCs, or any remote PCs.
    • Included in Routing and Remote Access ( RRAS ) role in Windows Server 2012 R2
       
  • [ 27:54 ] Expanding Device Support
    • Not Joined to AD
    • Workplace Joined
    • Domain Joined
       
  • [ 28:35 ] Expanded In-box VPN Support
    • Built into Windows
    • Secure and Stable
    • Performance with no compromise
    • Integrated experience
    • Apps that require VPN access can be integrated with VPN Profiles to trigger VPN connectivity on App launch
    • New 3rd party VPN support:
      • F5
      • Juniper Networks
      • Check Point
      • DELL SonicWALL
         
  • [ 31:13 ] Work Folders in Windows 8.1
    • Access data from anywhere on different devices
    • Requires Windows 8.1 client and Windows Server 2012 R2
    • Work folders can be enabled via File Server Role in Windows Server 2012 R2
    • Creates synced off-line folder on client that can optionally be encrypted using EFS
    • IT Pro can control policies for authentication and encryption
    • Work folders can be configured via end-user opt-in or can be pushed to users via Group Policy, System Center, Windows Intune or Scripts
       
  • [ 33:35 ] Mobile Device Management ( MDM ) in Windows 8.1
    • In-box capabilities for mobile device management
    • Leverages Open Mobile Alliance Device Management ( OMA-DM ) protocol
    • Extended to platform support to all Windows 8.1 SKUs
    • Added support for provisioning VPN profiles, wireless networks, certificates and Work Folders
    • Manage PCs through OMA-DM agent via Windows Intune or 3rd Party MDM solutions
       
  • [ 35:27 ] Security in Windows 8.1 - Selective Wipe
    • Mark and protect Work Folders with EFS
    • Access can be revoked on demand
    • Wipe business data remotely without affecting personal data
    • Per-app option: Wipe can be sent on an app-by-app basis or entire device
       
  • [ 37:59 ] Security in Windows 8.1 – Virtual Smart Cards
    • Ability to provide strong user authentication, using the ability of your device
       
  • [ 39:18 ] Security in Windows 8.1 – Biometrics
    • Fingerprints fully integrated in Windows experiences
       
  • [ 40:32 ] DEMO: Virtual Smart Card and Biometric Authentication
     
  • [ 47:08 ] Session Summary
    • Windows 8.1 offers great experiences and devices along with enterprise-grade solutions

What’s Next? Evaluate Windows 8.1 Preview in your own shop!

Below, I’ve listed some great FREE resources available to help you evaluate Windows 8.1 Preview in your own shop.  To evaluate Workplace Join, Work Folders, Selective Wipe, and Web Application Proxy, you’ll also need Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview.