Tech Ed 2012: Deploying Windows 8

Microsoft outlines how IT executives can roll out its newest operating system

Migrating users from the Windows 7 operating system (OS) to Windows 8 doesn’t have to be an IT nightmare. Here are some tips from Microsoft to help smooth the journey.

Speaking at Tech Ed 2012 on the Gold Coast, Microsoft US senior software development engineer, Michael Niehaus, told delegates that an upgrade from Windows 7 to 8 takes approximately 20 minutes on one virtual machine.

“However, Windows Vista to Windows 8 takes about 30 minutes for a clean install,” he said.

Features

According to Niehaus, one of the biggest Windows 8 deployment items is security with BitLocker pre-provisioning.

“As part of the deployment process, we can tell BitLocker to encrypt the disk while we are still in the Windows pre-installation environment [PE],” he said.

“This solution enables the encryption of the disk almost immediately.”

Niehaus added that there is a network unlock protector in BitLocker so that when the PC boots up, if it detects that it is on the corporate network, it will automatically unlock the disk.

However, if the IT manager boots up the PC on an unknown network, the machine will not unlock and prompts the user to type in their pin.

Windows 8 apps

Niehaus added that applications for the new OS were another area of change from Windows 7.

For example, the installation process for Windows 8 apps was to drop an extraction file containing the apps on to the computer, extract the contents and register them with Windows 8 OS.

Applications are installed per user so if the IT manager wants to allow someone else to use the app on the same PC, it has to be installed again for the additional user of that PC.

“That’s OK, but what happens if you want to make that app available for every user on the machine? In order to do that you need to a separate process called provisioning. It then automatically installs an application for the user of that PC every time they log in,” he said.

Windows to Go

To make things easier for deployment, Windows 8 can be stored on an external USB 3.0 key for installation on PCs.

In the future, Windows 8 will eventually install to internal USB 3.0 drives. However, Niehaus said Microsoft would need to make sure that the OS deployment tools can tell the difference between an internal and external USB 3.0 drive.

Hamish Barwick travelled to Tech Ed 2012 on the Gold Coast as a guest of Microsoft

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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