Five Windows 8 features for businesses

As consumers get a preview look at an early version of Windows 8, here are key features that should turn the head of any business manager

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview isn't the only new Microsoft download of interest to businesses. Also recently released was its Product Guide for Business, a 15-page PDF file that explores the most relevant Windows 8 features and technologies for businesses. Though littered with typos, the guide provides a well-organized overview of many previously introduced features, as well as details that weren't previously disclosed.

Here are five of the areas mentioned in Microsoft's guide likely to affect companies the most.

1. Windows To Go

Windows To Go allows businesses that develop their own custom Windows 8 deployment, often referred to as an "image", to install it on a bootable flash drive. The image can contain all of the apps and settings normally used on the desktops and laptops within the business. A remote worker can then use this drive to boot their home or other non-business owned Windows 7 or 8-compatible computer and still access all work-related functions while not endangering the safety of the business's data.

2. Mobile Productivity

Windows 8 was designed with mobile devices in mind, and a number of features should make it more mobile-friendly. Beyond Windows To Go, features like Direct Access will allow businesses that use Windows 8 Server to create a VPN-like secure connection between the user's device and work resources, such as business apps and internal websites. Built-in support for mobile broadband are meant to make working over a 3G or 4G connection similar to using Wi-Fi.

3. Internet Explorer 10

Windows 8 includes Internet Explorer 10, which Microsoft refers to in two ways. "Internet Explorer" is the touch-based version of the browser that runs on the Metro interface, while "the desktop version of Internet Explorer" looks like IE9 and runs in the desktop interface. While most of the security, management, and performance features from past versions of IE are still available to both, the Metro version is "plug-in free". Business applications that rely on Active X controls, now described as "legacy", will only work in the desktop version.

4. Security

Windows 8 brings new features to help protect against malware and viruses. The new "Trusted boot process" uses Secure Boot to load antimalware early in the startup process to prevent rootkits from taking control. When installed on hardware with a Trusted Platform Module, the entire startup process can be "measured, signed and stored", and even evaluated by a remote service so the PC's integrity can be validated. While using a computer, AppLocker can control which apps a worker can run and which files those apps have access to, which can prevent malware from accessing private business data.

5. Management

Management and security features from Windows 7 are also available in Windows 8, though tools like Application Compatibility Toolkit and User State Migration Tool promise to make deploying Windows 8 faster and easier. Windows System Restore feature has been updated and renamed Refresh, and can restore a non-functional PC to working condition without losing a user's settings and data. A similar new feature called Reset will allow companies to wipe their data and apps from the machine, making it easier to repurpose, sell or surplus it.

There's still room to improve though: Microsoft revealed that although 32-bit and 64-bit tablets can be managed in the same way that desktop and laptops can, ARM-based tablets must be handled as stand-alone devices.

You'll find Microsoft's full Product Guide for Business (PDF) on its Explore Windows 8 page.

For more blogs, stories, photos, and video about Microsoft Windows 8, check out PCWorld's complete Windows 8 coverage.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joseph Fieber

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?