New Orleans: Microsoft has disclosed more details on its upcoming Windows 8.1 platform, targeting enterprise customers with interface improvements, better security, and more features designed to help organisations with bring-your-own-device (BYOD) issues.
The software giant has already announced that a preview release of Windows 8.1 will be made available on June 26, and has shown off some of the user interface changes that are coming.
These include different tile sizes, and the release will also feature an updated browser IE11. Windows 8.1 will also make greater use of SkyDrive to enable users to access files anywhere on any of their devices.
At its TechEd conference, Microsoft revealed how it is aiming to sway enterprise customers with a five-pronged approach consisting of improved tablets from partners, business apps for its new user interface, enterprise security, BYOD features and improved enterprise mobility support.
For users who mostly run legacy applications, Windows can now boot straight to the desktop environment, and do not need to leave it, according to Erwin Visser, senior director for Microsoft's Windows Division.
Conversely, there is also less need to leave the new-style user interface and dive into the desktop thanks to an updated Settings app that allows access to capabilities like Power options and connecting to a Windows domain.
On the device front, Microsoft showed off upcoming devices running Windows 8.1 such as the Lenovo Helix hybrid laptop and ultrabook and the Acer Iconia W3 (pictured), the first 8.1in Windows tablet, according to Microsoft.
Improved wireless capabilities in Windows 8.1 include native support for the Miracast wireless display standard to make it easier to connect to give presentations. It also supports WiFi direct printing, using NFC to let users tap their device on a printer to pair the two and configure for wireless printing. Wireless hotspot support will also allow a Windows 8.1 device with an internet connection to share it with other devices as if it were an access point.
Administrators will also be able to lock down Windows 8.1 even more. Microsoft is giving admins the ability to define a standard Start screen with specific applications and links, or even configure a system to boot straight into a specific application and lock out everything else.
With the upcoming Windows Server 2012 R2, users will also be able to bring their own device and partially join it to the corporate domain using a feature called Workplace Join. This will allow an administrator to apply policies to their device via Windows Intune, including remote wipe of company-managed information if a device is lost or the employee leaves.
On the security side, all editions of Windows 8.1 will now support a device encryption capability, according to Chris Hallum, senior product manager for Windows Client Security.
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