IT Managers Cringe: Microsoft Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview Available For Download

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News Posted: Tue, Jul 30 2013 4:51 PM

Windows 8 Retail Box It's a big day for IT folk the world over: Microsoft has just announced the release of Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview. Alright - I might have been a little sarcastic there, but for those who either have already or plan to deploy Windows 8 in the near-future, this preview is going to be worth checking out.

Windows 8.1 Start Screen

The enterprise edition of 8.1 bundles in all of the enhancements we discussed at length last month, which includes the much-improved Start Screen, a more accurate search, a Start button (but no Start Menu), a quicker way to shutdown / restart, the much-liked "Boot to Desktop" option and et cetera. To better cater this edition to the enterprise, however, a handful of other tools are tossed onto the pile:

  • Windows To Go Creator: IT organizations can create a fully manageable corporate Windows 8.1 desktop on a bootable external USB drive. The drive can be used to support Bring Your Own Device scenarios or be given to contingent staff to access the corporate environment without compromising security.
  • Start Screen Control: IT departments can now control the layout of the Start screen on company-issued devices to ensure key apps are easily accessible. IT departments can also prevent users from customizing their Start screen to ensure consistency across individual workgroups or the entire company.
  • DirectAccess: Users can seamlessly access resources inside a corporate network remotely without having to launch a separate VPN. Also, IT administrators can keep remote users' PCs up-to-date by applying the latest policies and software updates.
  • BranchCache: Employees in branch offices no longer need to download content multiple times across their Wide Area Network (WAN) as BranchCache caches files, websites and other content from central servers locally on hosted cache servers or PCs.
  • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI): Users will enjoy a rich desktop experience and 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, thanks to enhancements in Microsoft RemoteFX and Windows Server 2012.
  • AppLocker: IT organizations can create a more secure environment by restricting the files and apps that users or groups can run on a PC, increasing the security of the device and the data it holds.
  • Windows Enterprise Side-Loading: Internal Windows apps can be side-loaded on domain-joined PCs and tablets running Windows 8.1 Enterprise.

Other niche features include Assigned Access (ability to restrict the device to a single Modern UI application), Inbox VPN clients, OpenMDM, workplace join and remote business data removal (once data is stored to a local server, it could be remotely deleted from the mobile device).

It's worth noting that those considering Windows 8 can feel rest-assured that Microsoft will be supporting it for some time to come; January 10, 2023, to be exact. Will the Start Menu return by then? We have a lot of time to speculate.

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Why does people STILL want the start menu back? The start screen is miles ahead of it in every single way. O_o

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Matter of opinion.

I personally prefer the start menu. It's nice. It's neat. and it's comfortable. I think the start screen is pretty and it works... for the most part. It's a personal preference. I for one don't like my desktop to look and feel like a handheld tablet.

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RiCoFrost replied on Tue, Jul 30 2013 9:24 PM

It choice.... just give people choice that's it. Have boot people will change one day.

For phones and tablets mertoui is awesome for desktop I like desktop better myself.

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Clixxer replied on Tue, Jul 30 2013 10:54 PM

I think it just comes down to touchscreens that the tiles are fine and dandy but for desktop users its a hassle. I've tried multiple times to use it like it was intended and after 30 minutes get frustrated and load up stardock again.

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sevags replied on Wed, Jul 31 2013 12:16 AM

It's not even about touch vs no touch, or desktop vs tablet, for me... I personally never used the start button much I just don't have programs that I use often enough and I don't switch tasks often enough to keep using the start menu. For me it's about NOT wanting icons on my desktop. Since windows 95 not only has the desktop looked nicer without icons but back in the day your boot and other performance could be impacted by having too many icons on the desktop. In the end I prefer a simple and clean desktop with the use of a start menu, or in th case of OSX a clean desktop with the use of the icon bar at the bottom that magnifies when you point at it. The ther negative side about having all the icons on the desktop is that anyone can see what you have at a glance while a start menu requires more snooping and reading, and on a touch device I accidentally click icons all the time since they are all over the screen.

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basroil3 replied on Wed, Jul 31 2013 2:19 AM

Delete all your desktop icons then, I'm sure you have more than a few!

Most people are reluctant to use the startscreen because they get fed anti-start screen crap from people who didn't even use it themselves. I have W8 on three computers (one has this 8.1 preview version) I manage (Vista on one, XP on another, 7 on five remaining), and it's just faster and more effective. In W8.1 the search no longer goes though start screen, and the only gripe i had just disappeared, since now it's easier and faster. And the only people who like the start menu never had to use a gaming mouse with it! I can keep my mouse at 3000dpi+ now and not worry about accidentally clicking the wrong program launcher

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basroil3 replied on Wed, Jul 31 2013 2:20 AM

You can use keyboard with it just like you would the start menu you know... and tiles>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> start menu lines for actually launching often used programs!

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basroil3 replied on Wed, Jul 31 2013 2:22 AM

You've ever seen the average OSX dock? Even with engineers their docks have so many items it's not even possible to search for what you want.

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Clixxer replied on Wed, Jul 31 2013 2:41 AM

Thinking about what yall have said I guess these are my biggest things I can't get over. First off is searching in the start menu. Typically I hit my windows key, type what I want and hit enter. Easy and quick, takes me all of 2 seconds to do it. I don't like keeping shortcuts on my desktops, I don't mind certain icons like recycle bin, text files with data I am using, ect but for programs I hate keeping a shortcut. I know metro does the same thing that you hit your windows key it takes you to metro and you can type and it starts a search but it brings me to my other point.

My other gripe about not having a regular start menu is I hate the constant switching between screens from metro to desktop to launch something, look at something, watch a video, ect. Microsoft's "app" store is horrible and when I multitask I will use half the screen per item (look at a webpage and watch a video for example) which using Microsoft's programs it seems to much of a hassle then just using the snap whatever. If I am in the desktop I want to stay in the desktop, not switch to metro to click a button or have to use a keyboard shortcut instead of clicking 3 times to get somewhere that used to take me one keystroke or one click to go right back to desktop. This crap works on a mobile platform but not on a desktop.

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