Microsoft New Zealand
The Windows 8 Release Preview has been available to download for a few weeks now, and a lot of you might be thinking of turning your hand to evaluating this release and examining how to start your deployment plans for your enterprise. There is an awful lot of information available for the RP and it’s easy to get lost in all the weeds, so I thought I would point you to a few useful resources to help you not only evaluate the product, but also to show the value of Windows 8 to business decision makers, assisting them in putting forward their business cases.
The all important overview and business case
The first thing you should do while waiting for the 6 gigs of download to finish is to grab a copy of the Windows 8 Product Guide. This is a PDF document that goes through all the major new features of Windows 8, at a high level perfect for business decision makers and can also be used to identify areas you need to know more about. While you are checking this out, make sure you keep up with the Building Windows 8 blog as this is a great place for breaking news, and also a good area for the business to see the advances we are making with this release of the OS as they come to light.
Installation and Deployment
When it comes to getting the OS onto a single PC to test, it’s a pretty easy install routine and you’ll be up and running in no time, but what about larger scale deployments? Firstly, you can’t go past the recently released Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 for working out your multi machine deployments. Mr Niehaus and company in the Solution Accelerators team have once again smashed it out of the park with a workbench that allows us to get the OS deployed in Lite Touch Mode to multiple machines. For those of you with a more Zero Touch mindset, especially those using our System Center 2012 – Configuration Manager component, you will be pleased to know that we announced Windows 8 support in Configuration Manager SP1 last week at TechEd North America 2012. The CTP of SP1 will be available any day now, so keep an eye on the download center just in case it drops overnight!
Look and feel
There’s no doubt about it, this ain’t your mother’s version of Windows so you need to get ready for the fact that it looks and feels very different, and this is likely to be a learning curve for your users as well. As much as you can, provide users with information they need to get up to speed on what to expect when this hits their desktop so they can get a flying start on stuff like metro style apps, Internet Explorer 10 and Cloud connectivity options. This stuff is truly exciting and we believe everyone who uses it will fall in love with the new Windows 8 User Experience.
New and improved features
Windows 8 RP introduces a bunch of new and improved features that you should seriously be examining as you start your evaluation. The most exciting of these has to be Windows To Go, a feature that allows you to put an enterprise SOE onto a USB stick and boot any Windows 8 capable hardware from it. This truly opens up a new raft of options for the “Bring Your Own Device” paradigm becoming more popular with today’s enterprises. As per usual, volume activation will be required for large scale Windows 8 deployments so it is a good idea to be up to speed on what will be required for your environment when getting this version of the OS out to your fleet of machines. Windows 8 also offers major advances in security capabilities in a number of areas, such as Bitlocker, Applocker, Secure Boot, Trusted Boot, and TPM. The great thing is that there is a ton of information available right now on all these topics, so there is no reason not to get down and dirty straight away. Lots of people are also really excited about the Windows Store and how we might manage this in the enterprise and we provide plenty of information regarding this as well.
Overall, we are in a really exciting phase of the race towards release of Windows 8 and there is no better time to start checking this OS out seriously. I hope you have as much fun exploring Windows 8 as I have had, and I am looking forward to typing to you again soon!