Microsoft has announced the availability of Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview Evaluation edition to allow CIOs and IT managers to begin testing the new operating system in their environments.
The new enterprise OS comes with Windows To Go Creator which allows IT organisations to create a fully manageable corporate Windows 8.1 desktop on a bootable external USB drive. The drive can be used to support Bring Your Own Device scenarios or be given to contingent staff to access the corporate environment without compromising security.
As well as this IT Start Screen Control allows IT departments to control the layout of the Start screen on company-issued devices and ensure key apps are easily accessible. IT departments can also prevent users from customizing their Start screens.
The evaluation edition also comes with other new features including DirectAccess to access resources without having to launch a corporate VPN, BranchCache which caches files from central servers on locally hosted caches, AppLocker which restricts the files and apps users can run on a PC to increase security, and Windows Enterprise Side-Loading, which allows internal apps to run on approved PCs and tablets.
Another new feature – Virtual Desktop Infrastructure – allows users on virtualized devices to play 3D graphics and access data across any type of network.
Writing in the Windows blog, Microsoft’s Erwin Visser wrote: “Windows 8 customers will have two years to move to Windows 8.1 after the General Availability of the Windows 8.1 update to continue to remain supported under Windows 8 lifecycle.
“With the availability of Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview, it is time to start planning your deployment – and there are deployment tools and guidance available to help make these updates seamless for customers,” he wrote.