Looking at Windows RT Myths

Six Myths of WIN_RT_Revealed.PDF.PDF.PDF - Adobe Acrobat Pro_2013-01-06_15-25-05I’ve been talking with quite a few IT professionals lately about Windows 8 roll-outs and one of the things that always pops up is the topic of Windows RT.  Now…I’ve always been under the impression that Windows RT was just the name of the overall platform for tablets running Windows 8, but apparently they are different systems.

Windows 8 is a full blown operating system while Windows RT is a slimmed down version….I think of the difference as being similar to Mac OS-X and iOS….one is a full-blown OS while the other is devoted to mobile devices.

My colleagues in the IT world have shared their concern of not only rolling out one new operating system but two at the same time. Not only are they looking at rolling out two operating systems at once, there are some concerns around the security of Windows RT and the ability to even implement Windows RT in the enterprise.

While these concerns are valid, there’s some hope I think.

Dell and Microsoft have released a white paper titled Six Myths of Windows RT Revealed that attempts to dispel some negative myths about Windows RT.

The myths that are discussed in the document are:

  • Windows RT is not manageable
  • Windows RT is not secure
  • Setting up Windows RT to work in an enterprise environment is difficult
  • It’s difficult to install line of business (LoB) apps on Windows RT
  • Windows RT is not good for BYOD users
  • Windows RT is not like having a “full” Windows OS

Now…we all know white papers like this are generally marketing pieces, but there are some excellent points in this one that I thought were worth sharing.

From a management standpoint (Myth #1), Windows RT can be managed using Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) platforms like Dell’s KACE management systems just like any other Microsoft system. This will allow IT to set their standard policies and configurations for all Windows RT platforms.

With the ability to manage Windows RT using SCCM  the security issues can be addressed via security policies set by the IT Group as well as built in security within Windows RT itself.   There are some interesting aspects to Windows RT that I hadn’t run across before including the ability to do a complete remote wipe of the system if it is lost/stolen. Combining the management capabilities for the IT team with the built in security features, Windows RT looks as secure as any other device out there. A sign that organizations like Microsoft and Dell are focusing on security can be seen clearly in Dell’s recent purchase of Credant to gather more data security and encryption knowledge and services.

From an enterprise standing (Myth #3), I think this is really something that will require a hands-on approach to get a feel for how easy/difficult is would be to configure Windows RT devices within the enterprise.  The white paper describes the built-in features that make it easier to bring RT devices into the enterprise. One of the interesting aspects is the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) included within the RT system, which makes it a bit easier to run legacy code on RT devices.

This brings us to Myth #4 regarding running Line Of Business apps on RT devices. Seeing the VDI capabilities had me thinking that legacy code can be run nicely on the RT platform but after reading about this particular myth, I’m a bit confused. An ‘application store’ is discussed that allows users to browse to find approved line-of-business applications. Now…I’m not quite sure if this is a ‘store’ that each organization builds or if this ‘store’ is something delivered by Microsoft.   This is one of those ‘hands on’ issues that I’d have to play around with before I could get a feel for how this works.

I’m not sure I understand Myth #5 – Windows RT is not good for BYOD users.  I see Windows RT as a great enabler of BYOD as it allows users to have their consumer device that is more easily integrated with the IT enterprise. With that…I’m not sure this is really a myth that I’ve heard…most people are on-board with RT being a BYOD enabler.  In fact, I think the BYOD angle is something pushed by Dell and Microsoft themselves as can be seen Dell’s XPS 10 Tablet marketing material.

Finally, the idea that Windows RT isn’t a full windows operating system.  I will admit  the first thing I thought of when reading about RT is that it is a slimmed down version of Windows 8. In fact, that’s how I described the OS in the intro to this piece. The white paper describes RT a bit differently as an OS built specifically for the ARM processor family.  This will most definitely keep legacy applications and even Windows 8 applications from running on RT devices without the VDI system or other type of emulator.  That said, I don’t see a big issue with RT not running legacy systems as I don’t really expect them to be able to do so. Dell recently published a review by one of their bloggers on their community that highlights the use of a Windows RT XPS 10 tablet, and from his review, it looks like there’s no real issue with being a full operating system as he was able to do everything he needed to do without issue.

So…back to the original question…are you rolling out Windows RT in your organization?    I’d love to hear your thoughts on these myths as well as your experience with the platform itself.

This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG and Dell

WIndows 8 – Adding one more OS to the mix

kbox-1000-diagram-06-01-10If running an IT organization during a new operating system roll-out wasn’t hard enough, rolling out Windows 8 in today’s BYOD environment can make things much more difficult.

Not only is a brand new Windows OS being rolled out with a completely new interface (with some functionality and focus on touchscreen capabilities, etc), a new focus by organizations on ‘bring your own devices’ is causing quite a large spike in new OS’s being found within organizations.   Today, you can find PC’s and other consumer devices running Android, Mac OS, iOS, Linux, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and now…Windows 8.

In the past, these multiple-OS platforms would be somewhat easier to manage since the IT group would be in full control of these machines…but with BYOD, that control isn’t as total as it once was.   The roll-out of Windows 8 is touted as something that would make life much easier for IT professionals with all of the the built-in security and management features.

While IT is rolling out Windows 8 to the enterprise and individuals are bringing in their own devices using Windows 8, there are still other devices not running Win8 that need to be managed.   IT professionals can use best-practices to manage the multi-OS environment…and one of those best practices is to begin to look at new management systems that help with the multi-OS problem.

Dell offers a product called the Dell KACE K1000 System Management Appliance that helps solve the multi-os problem.  The K1000 provides an all-in-one system management platform to manage both corporate and personal devices running Windows, Mac OS and Linux.  A few of the features:

  • Multiple Operating Systems – manages Windows, Linux and Mac OS devices
  • Automated Administration – provides automation for the routine management tasks that IT professionals have to do for operating system maintenance.
  • Device Discovery – the K1000 makes it easy to find devices on the network using a machine discovery API.
  • Inventory Management – much like the device discovery capabilities, the K1000 provides an inventory API that helps IT professionals keep track of the many machines on the network.

While the K1000 System or others like it won’t take away the burden of managing multiple operating systems in the new BYOD environment, it will  definitely help.

This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG and Dell

Windows 8 and the Enterprise – Bring your own Device (BYOD)

prodLinkOne of the big issues in the IT space is the growing acceptance by organizations that employees want to bring their own devices into the office.  This trend, called “bring your own device” or most often called “BYOD” has been gaining traction over the last few years.

One of the largest issues with BYOD is a simple yet important issue and has to do with the most basic of IT Functions – security.   Allowing users to bring in their own devices and connect to the corporate network is just asking for headaches for the information technology team.

In the past, IT has had to build special processes to allow users to bring in their own devices. This often meant that an IT professional would have to take the device, scan it for security issues and work through a large security process to get the new device onto the network.

With the release of Windows 8 for both mobile devices and PC’s, in addition to new Microsoft management features, the headaches found with BYOD might just be solved…or at least alleviated.

A few features that Windows 8 brings to the table to help with the BYOD headaches:

  • Windows To Go – provides for a full Windows 8 desktop environment that can be stored on a USB drive. This would allow a user to bring in their own PC, but run a fully-functional, corporate sponsored version of Windows 8while on the company network..
  • New Security Features – new Windows 8 security features provide for much more restrictions on files and applications
  • Data Access – DirectAccess, a new Windows 8 feature, allows remote PC’s to connect to the enterprise infrastructure without using a VPN.  This feature also allows for easier direct management of these remote computers.

While these are just a few of the new features in Windows 8, they are important ones and will go a long way toward removing BOYD headaches for IT professionals.

In addition to features within Windows 8 and new security/management features, new PC’s, tablets and phones are coming into the marketplace to help take advantage of mobility and BYOD. With the release of Windows 8, Dell has released a few enterprise and consumer devices with Windows 8 available.   A few examples of some of Dell’s new machines:

  • Dell XPS 12 – an ultrabook that could be quite useful at home or at work.  The great thing about this machine is Dell sells it with Prosupport to allow it to fit nicely within the Enterprise.
  • Dell XPS 10 – a tablet optimized for Windows 8 RT.  A perfect machine for someone who’s always moving around and mobile
  • Dell Latitude 6430 – another ultrabook built for business environments

By combining new features in Windows 8, new management functionality and new Windows 8 machines, IT professionals and consumers can start to alleviate some of the headaches that BYOD has historically meant for IT groups.

This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG and Dell