As Microsoft released the Windows 8 Consumer Preview today, it also published a product guide for business users of the operating system. In the guide, it was revealed that the ARM-based version of Windows 8 will lack some of the management features available to the version running on PCs—a limitation that may make the mobile version of the operating system a little less attractive to large enterprises out of the gate.
Touting the long battery life of ARM-based devices, the guide tempers expectations: “Although the ARM-based version of Windows does not include the same manageability features that are in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, businesses can use these power-saving devices in unmanaged environments.” That means ARM devices won’t be able to be added to Active Directory domains and have their user access managed by system administrators, or be remotely managed through Microsoft’s System Center environment.
The 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows 8 for x86 systems will integrate into existing management systems, according to Microsoft, allowing administrators to continue to use the same tools for system configuration, security management, and other tasks. And as an alternative for organizations requiring more secure access from mobile users, Microsoft outlined a “Windows to Go” version of the operating system that can use a USB drive to boot a PC from an approved corporate Windows 8 image, allowing the user to connect to the enterprise network remotely from an untrusted system without giving the locally installed operating system access to the network.
While that may be a good solution for employees who work from home or remote shared offices, the lack of management for ARM devices may make it harder for Microsoft to make a dent in Apple’s iPad share in the enterprise. A number of mobile device management tools, including Odyssey Software’s Athena, already integrate iOS, Blackberry, and Android support (as well as the current Windows Mobile) into Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager, and allow the locking down of those devices’ applications and features for more managed environments.
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No domain membership or enterprise management for Windows 8 on ARM