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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Implications of the Windows 8 Cloud in the Enterprise

If you haven't seen or tried Windows 8 yet, there is a big change in procedures as far as logging in goes. The big thing with Windows 8 is using the power of "The Cloud" to synchronize your settings across all computers you own. In order to utilize this sync feature, you must have a windows live id. In fact, this is the new norm in logging in to Windows. To log in, you input your windows live id username as the login username and your windows live id password as your login password. For a consumer, this is a welcome feature. Many families own more than one computer and can now have the same settings such as desktop wallpaper or Internet Explorer favorites across all of their computers. What's more is that you can customize which settings get synchronized, so you can pick and choose what gets synced and what doesn't. In the enterprise, this doesn't work so well.

In a business, computer security is much more uptight. Like consumers, you still have to worry about stuff like viruses and malware. However, businesses also have to worry about integration with existing systems. Access to company resources is still controlled by active directory and all given permissions on existing domains is still active. Since Windows 8 has built-in integration with Skydrive, the potential of (unauthorized) transfer of company files from company property increases. With existing systems, you still have this problem, but it is much easier to catch since you don't have to worry about numerous windows live ids being used constantly. With the Windows Live Id, you also open up to the intrusion of the personal life with company life. For example, with the synchronized settings, you may have an employee which had an offensive wallpaper on his home computer, and then it got transferred over to the work computer by default. There is also consumer programs on there like Xbox Live as well, which would almost certainly be disabled in an enterprise setting. You furthermore have the issue of being able to install unauthorized programs from the marketplace, but I believe installing from the marketplace is (still) controlled by access levels (in other words, only admin users can still install programs from the marketplace).

For the benefit of enterprise users, there is an option in which you can set up "local" users that only reside on the computer (very similar to what you already have now). The thing with local users is that settings are not synchronized between computers. I am sure that most companies that move to Windows 8 will be happy with the local user option. To solve file and settings synchronization issues, one solution is to have a "company" windows live id. This would something which would be set up and managed by the company, being able to control which windows live services a user has access to.

A plus side about the windows live id is that it works with the synchronization features already mentioned. Being able to work from any company computer anywhere seems like a great thing. However, let's not forget that when a new user logs in with the windows live id, the new user is automatically added to the list of users for that computer, and files created by that new user reside on the computer even after you log off unless you delete them first. Depending upon the situation, this can be a security risk.

From what I can see, Windows 8 is a great consumer operating system designed for consumers and students alike. However, these (and more) are some issues which enterprise users will have to iron out if they will, indeed, make the jump from Windows 7 to Windows 8. I will admit that I haven't really gotten a chance to test out Windows 8 in a domain setting. Word has it that the professional version of Windows 8 will have support for stuff that enterprise users need, like the ability to join a domain. In the next version of Windows Server, there are no guarantees, but Microsoft might consider some of these issues when updating tools to control group policy settings.

If any enterprise users or I.T. department people have already done some testing with Windows 8, I would love to hear about how testing went and what the results are. You can share this via the comment box below.You can also find me on twitter (twitter username is @rctechgeek). Feel free to subscribe to my rss feed too. I am now on Tumblr now as well (link to Tumblr is, so please follow me on Tumblr too.

If you're at work now and can't seem to stay awake or if your're driving to work and you need that coffee to get you going in the morning, drink some tasty Mystic Monk Coffee (use this link or click on the picture below to access the store and purchase). Trust me, it's good coffee (in most instances, much better than Starbucks coffee) and you won't regret buying some (just keep it away from your computer keyboard or laptop/tablet). For the summer, they are also offering Iced Coffee as well. If you like tea more than coffee, they also offer tea. Using the link (or picture below) to buy the coffee (or tea) helps the monks out and helps me with college expenses as well.

Feel free to try out my apps for Windows Phone: Mobile Media Manager, a media player app I made which has some features which (I feel) are missing from the system Zune player, and BSA Eagle Tracker, an app that boy scouts can use to track their progress to Eagle Scout (when the scout handbook isn't always handy). New versions of the media player with new features/bug fixes is coming within a week (most likely sooner than this, but definitely within 2 weeks) of passing Microsoft Apphub certification. BSA Eagle Tracker is also getting a bug fix for an obscure bug I noticed recently.

BSA Eagle Tracker download:
Mobile Media Manager (paid version) download:
Mobile Media Manager (free version) download:

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