GTEC 2014 – Windows 10 is Coming but what about Windows 8.1?

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I normally can’t blog about Microsoft futures because I am under multiple NDAs with Microsoft. This week is a little different. I attended GTEC in Ottawa this week. GTEC is Canada’s largest public sector technology show. I did something I don’t normally do – I attended Microsoft sessions. I normally avoid them because I know the presenters and I am familiar with the content through my MVP and Partner connections.

So why did I attend the sessions? So I could blog about topics that were discussed. You see, if it is in the public domain I am not breaching NDA, I am simply extending the presenters reach. I don’t always know what’s in the public domain so I am overly cautious about what I blog. I typically don’t blog about features until they are GA.

I am writing this post on my Surface Pro 3 i7 while watching Jeff Chin and David Boudreau present a session called Mobile Solutions for Government. One of the key takeaways was the device convergence coming in Windows 10. Many enterprises and the Government of Canada (GoC) in particular have just finished up their migrations to Windows 7 and moving to a new platform is not a high priority.

There is one initiative in the Canadian Federal Government that is rapidly adopting Windows 8.1 and that’s mobile workers using tablets.  The GoC has standardized on Windows devices for the tablet form factor.

So while we wait for Windows 10 and live with Windows 7 as our standard corporate desktop, what new functionality is available to enterprise clients (and the GoC in particular) by adopting Windows 8.1?

Here are some highlights from the presentation:

  1. Work Anywhere on Any Windows device – This is a combination of UE-V and the various remote solutions available through RDS and RemoteApp.
  2. Enterprise mode for IE – This is a compatibility mode that makes it easier to use websites designed for previous versions of IE. It is also available for Windows 8.1 and 7
  3. Native Miracast Wireless display – Microsoft has announced their own Miracast adapter will be available before Christmas. I currently use a device from ActiveTec.
  4. Wi-Fi direct Printing
  5. NFC tap to pair with enterprise printers
  6. PC as personal hotspot

In case any Microsoft lawyers are reading this, all of these features were publicly discussed in a session that was open to all attendees of GTEC. No NDA was required to attend.

Also this week at TechEd Europe in Barcelona, Microsoft announced that Office365 customers will be getting some basic MDM functionality at no additional cost. More on that later.

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