Microsoft Windows 8.1 Update Includes Enterprise Enhancements
Microsoft announced some enhancements to Windows 8.1 on Wednesday at Build, the company's annual developer conference, including a host of end-user experience enhancements, especially around devices that predominantly use mouse and keyboard input, but there were a host of enterprise-specific features also.
Windows 8.1 Update puts the power button and search field on the Start screen[Read Windows 8.1 Update Hammers Out the Little Things on Tom's Hardware for details on the end user side.]
Mobile device management improvements give IT more policy setting control, including the ability to assign a Windows Store application a whitelist or blacklist designation, set filters on URLs and manage the enterprise mode settings of Internet Explorer.
The enterprise mode of Internet Explorer 11 (available for Windows 8.1 and Windows 7) improves the browser's compatibility with IE 8, so that it can better run legacy IE 8 applications. This was a big issue for many organizations, apparently. IT can also configure a list of sites that should automatically cause IE 11 to go into enterprise mode.
Business customers can deliver the Windows 8.1 Update via Windows Update, but also through Windows Server Update Services, System Center Configuration Manager and Windows Intune. Microsoft will make Windows 8.1 Update images available some time in April so that organizations can roll it out quickly across devices.
Microsoft is granting enterprise sideloading rights to those businesses that have particular volume licensing agreements in place. Sideloading will let those organizations avoid using the Windows Store to deploy custom enterprise apps, or those coming directly from an ISV. Other customers can pay for enterprise sideloading for $100.