Microsoft: Windows 8 Will Future-Proof Enterprises' Investments

Microsoft will end support for Windows XP in April 2014.

At this week's TechEd conference in New Orleans, Microsoft detailed several enhancements for enterprises in the forthcoming Windows 8.1 upgrade. The enhancements can provide immediate as well as long- term value to customers, Visser wrote in an email to CRN.

"The market reality is that a lot of our customers are still finalizing their migration off Windows XP, and business migrations take planning and time. As we encourage our customers to continue with these migrations that are already under way, we're also recommending customers as part of their migration to consider Windows 8 for the scenarios that will deliver immediate incremental value, particularly for mobile scenarios or for tablet solutions," Visser wrote in the email. "We are also advising our customers to start purchasing touch-enabled Windows devices as part of their PC refresh, so their investments are future-proof."

Related: TechEd Preview: Hot Products To See From Microsoft And More

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A recent CRN study found that some solution providers don't find Windows 8 to be a solid operating system for businesses and that they are even ripping it out for customers.

At TechEd, Microsoft outlined three key Windows 8.1 areas of enhancement: mobility; management and BYOD scenarios; and enterprise-grade security.

In a blog post, Visser detailed the enhancements. Windows 8.1 will feature NFC tap-to-pair printing, which allows users to tap a Windows 8.1 device against an NFC-enabled printer to sync the device to print, eliminating the "hunting on your network" for the correct printer. Windows 8.1 also features Wi-Fi Direct printing, native Miracast wireless technology, broadband tethering and auto-triggered VPN features, Visser wrote in the blog post.

Security enhancements for business include more access controls, including new support for fingerprint-based biometrics. Also, multi-factor authentication using Virtual Smart Cards will be easier in Windows 8.1, according to Microsoft.

New management features include the ability to remotely remove business data while leaving personal data intact, customizable Start screens, and new Open Mobile Alliance Device Management capabilities to integrate with third-party MDM solutions, which will eliminate the need for additional agents. Enhanced policies allow administrators to manage more settings from both Windows Intune and the third-party MDM solutions for both Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1, Visser wrote in the blog post.