2012
04.19

Microsoft confirmed the names of the Windows 8 desktop and server this week, as well and confirming the name of the server operating system (Windows Server 2012).

As expected, the desktop OS will be called Windows 8.  There will, in fact, be four/4, editions of Windows 8, and not three as the media are proclaiming:

  • Windows 8: The home edition of the operating system.
  • Windows RT: Formerly known as Windows on ARM (WOA), this is the OEM only OS that you well get prebuilt on an ARM tablet
  • Windows 8 Pro: The edition of Windows 8 that you will buy for a business
  • Windows 8 Enterprise: This is the edition with all the business features that is available to those who license their desktops with Software Assurance (SA)

A few thoughts:

  • Thankfully MSFT has consolidated Starter, Home Basic, and Home Premium into Windows 8, and they’ve done that with Ultimate into the Pro edition.
  • Windows 8 is an edition of Windows 8.  Really!?!?!  That won’t be confusing, not one bit! (there is some sarcasm in there)
  • What does Windows RT mean?  It’s named after the WinRT development subsystem in Windows 8 that enables Metro apps.  It would be like calling it Windows .Net or Windows Javascript.  To me, it’s a bit techie for the targeted consumer audience.

Microsoft gave us a table to compare the features of Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows 8 Pro:

Feature name

Windows 8

Windows 8 Pro

Windows RT

Upgrades from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium

x

x

 

Upgrades from Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate

 

x

 

Start screen, Semantic Zoom, Live Tiles

x

x

x

Windows Store

x

x

x

Apps (Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Photos, SkyDrive, Reader, Music, Video)

x

x

x

Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote)

   

x

Internet Explorer 10

x

x

x

Device encryption

   

x

Connected standby

x

x

x

Microsoft account

x

x

x

Desktop

x

x

x

Installation of x86/64 and desktop software

x

x

 

Updated Windows Explorer

x

x

x

Windows Defender

x

x

x

SmartScreen

x

x

x

Windows Update

x

x

x

Enhanced Task Manager

x

x

x

Switch languages on the fly (Language Packs)

x

x

x

Better multiple monitor support

x

x

x

Storage Spaces

x

x

 

Windows Media Player

x

x

 

Exchange ActiveSync

x

x

x

File history

x

x

x

ISO / VHD mount

x

x

x

Mobile broadband features

x

x

x

Picture password

x

x

x

Play To

x

x

x

Remote Desktop (client)

x

x

x

Reset and refresh your PC

x

x

x

Snap

x

x

x

Touch and Thumb keyboard

x

x

x

Trusted boot

x

x

x

VPN client

x

x

x

BitLocker and BitLocker To Go

 

x

 

Boot from VHD

 

x

 

Client Hyper-V

 

x

 

Domain Join

 

x

 

Encrypting File System

 

x

 

Group Policy

 

x

 

Remote Desktop (host)

 

x

 

A few thoughts on the features:

  • BitLocker and BitLocker To Go are in the Pro edition for the first time.  Excellent!  This has been badly needed for years.  Now disk encryption will be built-in and available to all Windows 8 desktops and laptops in the business. 
  • However, BitLocker and BitLocker To Go are not in the ARM tablet (Windows RT).  That clearly says to me that Windows RT is not suitable for an organisation that needs encrypted mobile devices.  The ball is firmly in Intel’s court, where you’ll probably be able to run either the Pro or Enterprise editions.
  • Client Hyper-V is in the Pro edition.  You have no excuses not to try it now!  It’s great news for admins, developers, and testers.

Last night Microsoft gave us some more detail on Windows 8 Enterprise features.  This list is not complete:

  • Windows To Go: Boot Windows 8 on a USB 3.0 stick.  It gives you a portable operating system/environment that you can use at home, on the go, and enables BYOD with a corporate build on the stick.
  • DirectAccess VPN without a VPN client, that enables a user to access Internet/local resources as well securely using as remote corporate resources.
  • BranchCache allows users’ PCs to cache files, websites, and other content from central servers, so content is not repeatedly downloaded across the wide area network (WAN). When used with Windows Server 2012, Windows 8 brings several improvements to BranchCache to streamline the deployment process, optimize bandwidth over WAN connections and ensure better security and scalabilty.
  • AppLocker can help mitigate issues by restricting the files and apps that users or groups are allowed to run.
  • VDI enhancements: Enhancements in Microsoft RemoteFX and Windows Server 2012, provide users with a rich desktop experience with the ability to play 3D graphics, use USB peripherals and use touch-enabled devices across any type of network (LAN or WAN) for VDI scenarios.
  • New Windows 8 App Deployment: Domain joined PCs and tablets running Windows 8 Enterprise will automatically be enabled to side-load internal, Windows 8 Metro style apps.  This will be important in an enterprise environment.

You can only access Windows 8 Enterprise if your existing Windows 8 Pro is covered by Software Assurance (included in some programs such as OVS).  Licensing benefits include:

  • Windows To Go Use Rights: With Windows To Go use rights under Software Assurance, an employee will be able to use Windows To Go on any company PC licensed with Windows SA as well as from their home PC. Additionally, through a new companion device license for SA, employees will be able to use WTG on their personal devices at work.
  • Windows RT Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) Rights: When used as a companion of a Windows Software Assurance licensed PC, Windows RT will automatically receive extended VDA rights. These rights will provide access to a full VDI image running in the datacenter which will make Windows RT a great complementary tablet option for business customers.  This is not new, but a continuation of an existing right.
  • Companion Device License: For customers who want to provide full flexibility for how employees access their corporate desktop across devices, MSFT are introducing a new Companion Device License for Windows SA customers. For users of Windows Software Assurance licensed PCs this optional add-on will provide rights to access a corporate desktop either through VDI or Windows To Go on up to four personally owned devices.
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