Windows 8 An Overview
Windows 8 is the newest member of the Windows family, and everyone at Microsoft is very excited about it.
Microsoft reimagined Windows 8 to reflect the way people work and play, the devices they want to use, and
the explosion of social media. You might be tempted to think that Windows 8 simply is a consumer release—
and there are certainly a lot of great new features that consumers are going to love— but Windows 8 has a
lot for businesses and IT pros, too.
The new user interface and app model enable businesses to create their own line-of-business (LOB) apps
to help improve users' productivity. The operating system improves on the fundamentals, such as speed,
reliability, and security. Lastly, Windows 8 works with your existing infrastructure but also offers new ways to
deploy and manage users' desktop environments.
This chapter provides an overview of Windows 8, beginning with answering the question, "Why?" Then it
describes essential details, like hardware requirements and editions, and closes by telling you how you can
begin evaluating it for your business today.
Why Windows 8?
Users have broad access to consumer devices (e.g., laptop PCs, tablet PCs, and mobile phones using modern
technology) at home, and this device proliferation leads to higher user expectations of technology at work.
You don't need an analyst to tell you that users have more personal computing devices and that those
devices are often compelling.
The digital generation entering the work place raises these expectations to a whole new level. This is a
generation that has grown up completely fluent with digital technology (e.g., texting, instant messaging, and
social media). They are digital natives and have significantly different beliefs about the tools they should be
able to use at work.
Digital natives are also increasingly mobile and operate at a very fast pace. Their quick pace, combined
with ubiquitous connectivity, blurs the lines between people’s work and personal lives. As those lines blur,
their personalities and individual work styles impact how they get their work done and what technology they
prefer to use. As a result, they want a say in the technologies they use to get their jobs done.
This trend is aptly called the "consumerization of IT." An example of consumerization is a Bring Your Own
Device (BYOD) program, where users can bring their own laptop PC, tablet PC, or smartphone to work and
use them to access a work desktop hosted in the datacenter. Another example is the use of social networking
at work—for work.
It's certainly not a secret that people buy their own smartphones for work, use unapproved websites, or
download unapproved applications on a work PC. They do so because the technology that they use at home
is often better than the technology available on the job.
Consumerization of IT is great, as it unleashes people’s productivity and passion, innovation, and
competitive advantage. We believe in the power of saying "Yes" to users and their technology requests in a
responsible way. Our goal at Microsoft is to partner with IT to enable you to embrace these trends but also
ensure the environment remains secure and well managed.
While Microsoft knows that embracing the consumerization of IT can be challenging, the company's
strategy can help overcome those challenges. That strategy is to:
? Provide the experiences and devices that users love and expect.
? Deliver enterprise-grade solutions that you can use to manage and secure them.
The following sections describe how Windows 8 is a key part of this strategy.
Experiences and devices
Microsoft knows that business users often have to choose between convenience and productivity. Windows 8
tablets (i.e., x86 tablets) offer users a no-compromise tablet experience. Windows 8 delivers a touch-first
experience along with full support for mouse and keyboard. It’s a no-compromise experience that gives users
the convenience and mobility of a tablet combined with the power and familiarity of a full PC. Users can
move effortlessly between work and personal activities. Not only that, but users can have a connected
experience with apps from the Windows Store while continuing to use the same desktop LOB and
productivity apps they currently use on Windows 7. Finally, Windows 8 offers new possibilities for mobile
Windows 8 also offers enterprise-grade solutions:
? Enhanced end-to-end security From the client device to back-end infrastructure, Windows 8
offers features that improve the security and reliability of the systems in your company. From
power-on to power-off, Windows 8 can provide a more secure foundation to help keep businesses
running and users productive.
? Management and virtualization advancements Windows 8 includes enhancements to
manageability and virtualization features that help you manage client PCs. For example, Windows
To Go provides new ways to give users a super mobile desktop experience on almost any PC. (For
more information about Windows To Go, see Chapter 6, "Deploying Windows 8.")
What's new for Windows 8?
Windows 8 focuses on users' lives. It is beautiful. Fast. Fluid. It's also perfect for a range of devices. This
includes PCs, of course, but also compact, touch-enabled tablet PCs, lightweight laptops, and large, powerful
all-in-one PCs with high-definition screens.
Windows 8 is smooth and intuitive. Users have instant access to the information they care about most, like
their contacts, apps, and other information. They can spend less time looking for information and more time
doing things with it.
But all that is the consumer story. What about IT pros? The following sections provide a quick look at
some of the really interesting new features for IT pros. Of course, the remainder of this book provides more
information about these features.
The following list describes new and enhanced security features in Windows 8:
? Trusted boot Some malware programs target the boot process and insert themselves into the
system before Windows or antimalware software is able to start. Because of this, the ability of
Windows or the antimalware software to protect the system might be compromised. With UEFI
2.3.1 equipped devices, the UEFI Secure Boot feature helps to ensure that malware is not able to
start before Windows 8. The Windows 8 Trusted boot feature protects the integrity of the remainder
of the boot process, including the kernel, system files, boot critical drivers, and even the
antimalware software itself. The system’s antimalware software is the first third party application or
driver to start. Moving antimalware into the Trusted boot process prevents it from being tampered
with. In the event that malware is able to successfully tamper with the boot process, Windows can
automatically detect and repair the system.
? Measured boot On Trusted Platform Module (TPM)-based systems, Windows 8 can perform a
comprehensive chain of measurements during the boot process that can be used to further validate
the boot process beyond Trusted boot. Measured boot process enables all aspects of the boot
process to be measured, signed, and stored in a TPM chip. This information can be evaluated by a
remote service to further validate a computer’s integrity before granting it access to resources. This
process is called Remote Attestation.
? BitLocker Drive Encryption BitLocker Drive Encryption is a data protection feature in Windows 8
Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise editions that helps protect data theft from lost, stolen, or
inappropriately decommissioned computers. BitLocker now encrypts hard drives more quickly,
helping to keep data safe without significantly interrupting worker productivity.
BitLocker now supports encrypted drives, which are hard drives that come pre-encrypted from the
manufacturer. BitLocker offloads the cryptographic operations to hardware, increasing overall
encryption performance and decreasing CPU and power consumption.
On devices without hardware encryption, Bitlocker encrypts data more quickly. BitLocker allows you to
choose to encrypt the used space on a disk instead of the entire disk. As free space is used, it will be
encrypted. This results in a faster, less disruptive encryption of a hard drive, so that enterprises can
more easily provision BitLocker, and they can do it with little time impact. In addition, the user
experience is improved by allowing a standard user, one without administrative privileges, to reset the
? AppLocker AppLocker is a simple and flexible mechanism that allows you to specify exactly which
apps are allowed to run on users' PCs. Traditional access control technologies such as Active
Directory Rights Management Services and Access Control Lists (ACLs) help control the data users
are allowed to access. However, these technologies can't prevent users from installing or using nonstandard
software. In Windows 8 Enterprise editions, AppLocker enables you to create security
policies through Group Policy to prevent potentially harmful or other non-approved apps from
running. With AppLocker, you can set rules based on a number of properties, including the
signature of the application's package or the app's package installer, and can more effectively
control apps with less management.
? Windows SmartScreen Windows SmartScreen app reputation is a safety feature in Windows 8.
This service provides application reputation-based technologies to help protect users from
malicious software that they may encounter on the Internet. This technology checks the reputation
on any new application, helping to keep users safe no matter what browser they use in Windows 8.
This helps to prevent malware and other viruses from infiltrating your organization. The Windows
SmartScreen app reputation feature works with the SmartScreen feature in Internet Explorer, which
also protects users from websites seeking to acquire personal information such as usernames,
passwords, and billing data.
? Claim-based access control Claim-based access control enables you to set up and manage usage
policies for files, folders, and shared resources.
With Windows 8, you can dynamically allow users access to the data they need based on the user's
role in the company. Unlike previous statically-controlled security groups, Claim-based access control
allows you to dynamically control access to corporate resources based on the user and device
properties that are stored in Active Directory. For example, a policy can be created that enables
individuals in the finance group to have access to specific budget and forecast data, and the human
resources group to have access to personnel files.
Chapter 11, "Windows 8 security," provides more information about these security features.
Manageability and virtualization
The following list describes some of the new manageability and virtualization features in Windows 8:
? Client Hyper-V Client Hyper-V on Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise is a robust
virtualization platform that enables IT Pros and developers to run diverse client and server
environments on their Windows 8 PCs. You can test and manage multiple environments from a
single PC, allowing you to evaluate changes in a test environment in advance of deploying to a
production environment. With support for wireless networking and sleep and hibernate modes,
Client Hyper-V can run on any Second Level Address Translation (SLAT)-enabled 64-bit PC,
including most Intel- and AMD-based laptops. Virtual Machines (VMs) can be migrated easily
between server and Client Hyper-V without modification, making developers and IT pros more
efficient. Client Hyper-V also supports both 32-bit and 64-bit guest operating systems. Client
Hyper-V leverages the security enhancements in Windows 8 and can be managed easily by
existing IT tools such as System Center. For more information about Client Hyper-V, see Chapter
13, "Windows 8 virtualization."
? Windows PowerShell Management tasks are simplified with Windows PowerShell automation.
Windows PowerShell provides easy-to-learn language syntax. New features in the Windows
PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE) make it easier and faster for both new and
experienced users to author clear, maintainable, production-ready automation scripts. IntelliSense
tap completion, snippets, and GUI based search features provide improved cmdlet discovery,
making it easier to find and run any of the 1,200 new high-level, task-oriented cmdlets. For more
information about Windows PowerShell, see Chapter 10, "Windows 8 management."
? Testing, deployment, and migration Deploying Windows 8 in your organization is faster and
easier than Windows 7. Enhanced tools help you make the right decisions with minimal downtime
for users. A new version of the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) helps you understand
potential application compatibility issues by identifying which apps are or are not compatible
with Windows 8. ACT helps you to deploy Windows 8 more quickly by helping to prioritize, test,
and detect compatibility issues with your apps.
Migrating user data from a previous Windows installation can be automated with the User State
Migration Tool (USMT). This tool now supports migrating user data from Windows XP installations.
With the end of support for Windows XP approaching, now is a great time to plan your migration to
For more information about deploying Windows 8, see Chapter 6, "Deploying Windows 8."
? Refresh and Reset your PC Windows 8 helps streamline the recovery process for PCs. Refresh
your PC and Reset your PC allow users to restore their Windows 8 installation and more easily get
their systems up and running again. Even when Windows 8 cannot start, you can use these new
features from within the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE). Refresh your PC allows
users to reinstall Windows 8 while maintaining their personal files, accounts, and personalization
settings. These features make it faster and easier to get a PC up and running again. For more
information about Refresh your PC and Reset your PC, see Chapter 9, "Windows 8 recovery." This
chapter also describes the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset, which provides more
advanced troubleshooting and recovery tools that are built into Windows 8.
? Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Powered by Window Server 8, Microsoft VDI provides
the best value for virtual desktops today. The new Remote Desktop client in Windows 8 works
with VDI. Windows Server 8 provides customers with deployment choices through a single
platform and a consistently rich user experience. Setting up a VDI environment is easy with the
simple setup wizard, and managing your VDI environment is simple with administration,
intelligent patching, and unified management capabilities. Features such as user profile disks and
Fair Share ensure high performance and flexibility, while support for lower cost storage and
sessions help reduce the cost of VDI. In addition, Microsoft RemoteFX provides users with a rich,
local-like desktop experience, with the ability to play multimedia, 3D graphics, use USB
peripherals, and touch-enabled devices across any type of network (LAN or WAN). All of these
benefits are available across different types of VDI desktops (personal VM, pooled VM, or sessionbased
desktops). For more information about Windows 8 in a VDI environment, see Chapter 13,
"Windows 8 virtualization."
Windows 8 provides a terrific experience on the same hardware that runs Windows 7. Table 1-1 describes the
hardware recommendations for Windows 8. In fact, you might even notice that PCs seem to work even better
after upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8.
Table 1-1 Windows 8 Hardware Recommendations
Processor 1 GHz or faster
Memory 32-bit PCs: 1 GB
64-bit PCs: 2 GB
Hard disk space 32-bit PCs: 16 GB
64-bit PCs: 20 GB
Graphics card Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
Additionally, some Windows 8 features require other hardware components:
? To use touch, you need a tablet or a monitor that supports multi-touch.
? To access the Windows Store to download and run apps, you need an active Internet connection
and a screen resolution of at least 1024 x 768.
? To snap apps, you need a screen resolution of at least 1366 x 768.
Hardware innovation is broad in Windows 8, and there are a few key areas where Microsoft has worked
extensively with its partners. The following sections describe some of the things you and your users will
notice quickly about PCs built for Windows 8—either at work or at a retail store.
Touch is clearly front-and-center for Microsoft. For example, the company is requiring that touch displays
support a minimum of five-fingers, and it is working with its partners to deliver touch-optimized devices. To
ensure a great user experience with touch, Microsoft has done extensive research into:
? The response times required for touch.
? The sensitivity and precision required of a digitizer.
? The user experience of a flush bezel.
These requirements are enforced with the Windows 8 Hardware Certification Requirements. You can learn
more about these requirements on the "Windows Hardware Certification" page at
Long battery life
One of the key design tenets of Windows 8 is to enable long battery life. With Windows 8, a new class of
ultrathin PCs and tablets can turn on instantly, can run all day on a single charge, and stay connected to the
Internet—so users’ PCs are ready when they’re ready.
Thinner, lighter, faster
As you have seen with today’s ultrabooks, PCs are already thinner and lighter than ever. This will only
continue with Windows 8. There will be thin and light tablets and ultra-portables that start and run faster
than today’s PCs. Even installing Windows 8 on an existing PC will improve its performance because of the
improvements we’ve made in the core operating system.
Sensors and security
With Windows 8, Microsoft will enable developers to take advantage of hardware innovation such as:
? Low-power Bluetooth
You'll also be able to take advantage of security hardware technologies like Trusted Platform Module
(TPM) and Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) boot.
New form factors
Microsoft believes that users should have a choice. To that end, PCs will come in a variety of form factors,
from tablets to convertibles to ultra-portables to all-in-one PCs. One day, you might even see designs that
you would not have thought possible. Together with its OEM partners, Microsoft will provide great devices
for every work style:
? Devices for executives that are innovative, portable, powerful.
? Devices optimized for enterprise knowledge workers and everyday business tasks.
? Devices that are specialized and unique for specific tasks.
? Industrial devices like ruggedized machines in oil rigs and manufacturing lines.
? Varieties of companion devices that present new and fun possibilities.
Devices for Windows 8 are about choices, because Microsoft believes the device has to fit the job.
Microsoft and its ecosystem are committed to providing choices to our customers.
Windows 8 editions
Chapter 5, "Preparing for deployment," contains a table that describes the specific features you will find in
each edition of Windows 8. For now, the following list summarizes them:
? Windows 8 Windows 8 is the basic stock-keeping unit (SKU) for home users. It includes the core
feature set that home users require but does not include key business features, such as support for
the ability to join domains, process Group Policy, and so on.
? Windows 8 Pro Windows 8 Pro is for small- and medium-sized businesses. It delivers new levels
of productivity, security, and mobility—without sacrificing performance or choice. It provides
enhanced features that help to easily connect to company networks, access files on the go, encrypt
data, and more.
? Windows 8 Enterprise Windows 8 Enterprise edition is available through Windows Software
Assurance. It includes all the capabilities of Windows 8 Pro, plus premium features designed to meet
the mobility, productivity, security and manageability, and virtualization needs of today’s large
businesses. Key examples are Windows To Go, DirectAccess, BranchCache, AppLocker, VDI, and
Windows 8 app deployment. You will learn about these features in this book.
? Windows RT Devices Windows RT Devices run low-powered ARM processors, which helps OEMs
build devices with long battery lives and new form factors (thin, light, and sleek devices). Also,
Windows RT Devices are built on a new paradigm (preconfigured system on certified hardware),
which helps ensure that users have high-quality and predictable experiences over time. While
Windows RT Devices offer the great benefits this chapter just mentioned, they have commonality
and shared code with Windows 8, offering a consistent, great Windows experience. For example,
Windows RT Devices support the new UI (including desktop). Both Windows RT Devices and
Windows 8 can run apps from the Windows Store. Windows RT Devices are compatible with most
peripherals, since they include class drivers for most peripherals, and the majority of mice,
keyboards, printers, and USB storages are supported out of the box.
Getting started with Windows 8
Microsoft makes getting started with your Windows 8 evaluation easy. MSDN and TechNet subscribers can
download Windows 8 from the subscriber downloads area. You can also download a Windows 8 Enterprise
evaluation from the Downloads page on TechNet at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/downloads.
You can evaluate Windows 8 in a VM. By doing so, you will experience the vast majority of features that
this book describes. If you want to experience touch, however, then you must install Windows 8 on a PC with
a touch-enabled display or a tablet PC.
As this chapter described, Windows 8 offers strong value to IT pros. Microsoft is delivering on its
commitment to deliver experiences and devices that users want, along with enterprise-grade solutions that
provide end-to-end security, management, and security. The remainder of this book provides more
information about the features you learned about in this chapter.