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Microsoft has begun a concerted push to drive adoption of its newly launched Windows 8, detailing the benefits that enterprise customers can expect to see from the platform, while lining up early adopters to extol its virtues.
While the recent Windows 8 launch itself seemed to focus largely on drawing consumer attention to Microsoft's latest operating system, the firm is now turning its attention to selling the platform to the large enterprise customers whose adoption will be critical to its success.
This could be an uphill battle for the software giant. Many organisations are still in the throes of a migration to Windows 7, which has been available for three years but has only recently hit the 50 percent mark for web-connected computers.
Nevertheless, Microsoft claims that Windows 8 has potential benefits for business customers, helping to address the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend thanks to its greater support for tablets and cloud-based services, while maintaining compatibility with the applications and infrastructure firms have already invested in.
"With the consumerisation of IT, expectations are changing, and people expect to have access to their data and corporate resources anywhere. This is an opportunity for enterprises, because if they roll out devices that can be connected anywhere, user satisfaction will go up, and productivity will go up," said Erwin Visser, senior director for Windows commercial marketing at Microsoft.
However, Visser said that customers have major concerns about making such a move, and have a need for management oversight to meet compliance and security requirements, concerns that Microsoft feels it is well placed to address with Windows 8.
"Windows 8 will run everything that Windows 7 customers are running today. The infrastructure that customers have today is also compatible, so they can start bringing in Windows 8 alongside Windows 7, as they are compatible with the same management tools," he claimed.
Other key features that are expected to appeal to enterprise users include the claim that Windows 8 is much more resistant to malware attacks, especially rootkits, thanks to its Trusted Boot capability.
This makes use of capabilities in the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) in new systems to prevent unsigned and uncertified boot loaders from taking control of the system. Even if malicious code succeeds in infecting the boot sector, this will be detected the next time the system starts and an auto-repair process invoked that rolls back any changes, Microsoft claimed.
Windows 8 also includes support for the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) in a corporate PC to function as a virtual smartcard to authenticate users, eliminating the cost of provisioning a separate smartcard, Microsoft said.
Bitlocker encryption is also supported in Windows 8, but this now protects only the data files on a system, not the entire disk, avoiding the overhead of having the operating system encrypted.
This version of Windows also has an updated Remote Desktop experience that provides full touch support for Windows 8 virtual desktop sessions accessed remotely via a tablet or other device, plus USB redirection, so that the remote host can access a device such as a USB flash drive that is plugged into the endpoint.
Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.