How to handle Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets in the enterprise

Windows 8 and the Windows RT tablet could be coming to an office near you. Brush up on how to license and manage these consumer-focused devices.

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Now that Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets are available, IT administrators might be wondering  how to deal with the user-focused aspects of each.

Microsoft's Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems are more focused on consumers than ever before, and new features such as SkyDrive integration could present problems for admins. The company has made virtual desktop licensing easier for RT tablets, but device management could get tricky. Check out the answers to some of the most common questions about Windows 8 and Windows RT.

How will the Windows RT tablet fit in the enterprise?

Opinions conflict when it comes to whether Windows RT tablets have a place in the Office. According to naysayers, the Windows RT tablet PC will fail because end-users expected Microsoft to build a mobile device that integrated with other Windows-based devices and applications. RT tablets come bundled with Office, but only run ARM-based applications. Line-of-business applications won't run on the tablet without being rewritten first. Admins want to manage the Windows RT tablet the same way they do desktops, but RT tablets can't connect to a domain, so they can't adhere to security or group policies.

But the point of a tablet is that it's different, so managing it the same way you would a desktop doesn't really make sense. Managing any mobile device like it's a PC strips away some of the device's benefits, so admins will have to manage RT tablets the same way they do iPhones and Android devices.

Tablets that run the Windows 8 operating system should be better for enterprise use because putting a desktop OS on a tablet makes the device work like a PC. Whether that provides a good user experience remains to be seen, but it could be a good thing for admins looking for an easy way to manage tablets.

More on Windows RT tablets

What are the VDI licensing rules for Windows RT tablets?

Some Windows RT tablets don't need separate licenses for virtual desktop infrastructure. The primary user of a Windows PC with Software Assurance can use a corporate-issued RT tablet as a companion device without a Virtual Desktop Access subscription. Microsoft isn't offering this perk for any other mobile devices.

What are the benefits of Microsoft's unified OS strategy?

The beauty of Microsoft's approach to Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 is that all the OSes look and feel the same. They are three different OSes, but in theory, users won't be able to tell. People can switch from their Windows 8 desktop at the office to an RT tablet or Windows smartphone on the train to a laptop at home without noticing any major differences (besides screen size). Managing each device is different for IT, but this unified OS strategy could make application development easier and improve end users' experiences.

What are the implications of Micrsoft’s new SkyDrive's integration?

The problem with SkyDrive integration in Windows 8 and Windows RT is that it's really easy for employees to use. All workers do is sign on to their machines with their Microsoft accounts, and the cloud sharing begins. Users can also sync desktop settings and remotely access their stored files from the SkyDrive website. This kind of file access can improve user productivity, but it can also increase the chances of data leakage or security policy violations.

This was first published in December 2012

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