When Microsoft announced that it would “reimagine” its legacy operating system with Windows 8, the company wasn’t kidding. The new OS put a strong focus on a mobile and touch experience and removed the beloved Start button, which had been a staple of the OS since Windows 95.
Now, Microsoft has announced an upgrade to Windows 8 with Windows 8.1 “Blue.” With a public preview expected on June 26, the latest additions to Windows 8 include increased networking and security functionalities. The company is even somewhat bringing back the Start button in the form of the “Start tip.”
In a press release from its TechEd North America event, Microsoft laid out some of the new features in its upgrade to Windows 8.
New networking features in Windows 8.1 aim to improve mobile productivity for today’s workforce, with system-on-a-chip (SoC)-integrated mobile broadband, native Miracast wireless display and near field communication (NFC)-based pairing with enterprise printers.
Security is also enhanced in the new update to address device proliferation and to protect corporate data and applications with fingerprint-based biometrics, multifactor authentication on tablets and remote business data removal to securely wipe company data from a device.
And improved management capabilities in Windows 8.1 give customers more flexibility with supported options such as System Center Configuration Manager 2012 R2 and new mobile device management (MDM) solutions with third-party MDM partners, in addition to updated Windows Intune support.
Additionally, Microsoft announced some specific business-friendly features such as auto-triggered VPN, Wi-Fi Direct printing and broadband tethering.
“Our goal for Windows 8.1: offer customers the best business tablets and versatile, next generation business PCs driven by the most powerful operating system designed for modern businesses,” says Erwin Visser, general manager for Windows Commercial Marketing at Microsoft, on the Windows Blog.
A recent Spiceworks survey found that 69 percent of small and medium-sized businesses were testing Windows 8, so these new features might do the trick in moving Windows 8 from the test environment to production among SMBs.