During the TechED conference today in New Orleans, Microsoft revealed a bit more information on the upcoming Windows 8.1 update for Windows 8. Microsoft has added new features to Windows 8.1 to allow for a tablet to be much more secure and mobile than before. In fact, with the update, businesses can now feel comfortable using Windows 8.1 devices in Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scenarios.
Windows 8.1 has added several new features when it comes to networking. Networking on Windows 8.1 has pretty much been optimized for mobile productivity with support for NFC and WiFi connected devices. For example, Windows 8.1 supports NFC tap-to-pair printing, which allows you to tap your device against an enterprise NFC-enabled printer to print. Windows 8.1 users can also connect to a WiFi Direct printer without adding drivers or software. Using NFC or Bluetooth, one can now project their content to a Miracast-enabled device. "Present your work wirelessly without any dongles needed; simply project your content to a Miracast-enabled device by pairing the device through Bluetooth or NFC. Miracast will then use the available Wi-Fi connection to let you lean back and project wire-free," Microsoft explains.
Windows 8.1 also supports broadband tethering, which allows you to turn your tablet into a personal WiFi hotspot and allow other devices to connect to it and access the internet. Windows 8.1 also comes with auto-triggered VPN support, which lets Windows auto prompt you to sign in with one click when you select an app or resource that needs access via the company's intranet site or other VPN sources.
Microsoft has added support for "fingerprint-based biometrics" as well as support for multi-factor authentication using Virtual Smart Cards. Windows 8.1 will feature Windows Defender and network behaviour monitoring to detect and prevent malware. Even Internet Explorer will be a part of the security solution by scanning binary extensions and preventing harmful code from being executed.
Microsoft is also making it easier for businesses to adopt Windows 8.1 devices for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scenarios. Microsoft has added better controls for businesses, such as control over the layout of the Start Screen, remote business data removal, Open Mobile Alliance Device Management (OMA-DM) capabilities, and the ability to only allowing registered and trusted devices to access secured enterprise data. Assigned Access, something we learned about via leaked screenshots, will be a "Kiosk mode" of sorts that lets businesses assign a single app to be used and prevents the user from accessing system files or other apps.
Microsoft is set to release a public preview build of Windows 8.1 for Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Embedded 8 on June 26th. Are you ready for it?