Make the RT Windows 8 Decision

Curtis Franklin Jr., Executive Editor | 11/16/2012 | 50 comments

Curtis Franklin Jr.
RT, or not RT: That is the question. It might not be Hamlet's soliloquy, but it's a question IT departments must ask when migrating to Windows 8.

It sounds like a simple question, since Windows 8 RT is the lighter version of Windows 8 designed for home users. In a perfectly segmented world, you wouldn't have to worry about such things, because no one would ever want to bring a computer designed for personal use into the enterprise.

Ours is not such a world. Enterprise IT in the teens is all about the merging of the personal and the corporate, so this is, in fact, something you'll need to prepare for. Fortunately for you, the users will make most of the decisions for you.

Let's get the big division out of the way first: If your users want to run any legacy applications, want to add applications that don't come from the "Windows Store," or need to run Outlook for mail and calendar access, they do not want Windows 8 RT. That's simple. If a user comes to you and asks about a tablet that can be the device to replace their aging laptop, then the odds are awfully good that you're going to want to steer them toward a Windows 8 x86 tablet, rather than a tablet running Windows 8 RT. Simplicity is good, but once we leave those big, easy cases you're going to have to put a bit more thought into what you allow and what you recommend.

What about access to enterprise applications? Windows 8 RT is no good for those, right? Not so fast. With more and more enterprises using Web-facing applications for their critical functions, Windows 8 RT tablets become quite acceptable platforms for access, with a couple of caveats. The most significant involves Flash. Now, I'll admit that I don't know why you would program a critical enterprise application using Flash, but if you've done this then you're in trouble. Windows 8 RT will run Flash if it's on a site already approved by Microsoft. Has your accounting package been approved? It's something you want to check. (Though I'd really appreciate it if you'd let me know if yours has, in fact, been approved.)

Another popular way for users to gain access to enterprise applications is through a virtual desktop application (VDI). Windows 8 RT has approved clients for two such clients, RemoteFX and the latest version of Citrix HDX. If your enterprise is running either of these clients, then you open up a world of possibilities for BYOD. If you've chosen another virtual desktop option, then you are at best playing a waiting game with your users.

The most interesting issue that Windows 8 RT brings to the BYOD table involves licensing. A thorough look at the license for the Windows and Office versions included with Windows 8 RT tablets shows that the purchaser agrees to use them for personal and educational purposes only. That means that anyone bringing a Windows 8 RT tablet to the enterprise and using its software to support their work is in violation of their license. You can, of course, put your own enterprise software license on the tablet, but that becomes complicated if the employee leaves the company and in some cases reduces the appeal of BYOD to the enterprise.

Companies that buy Windows 8 tablets for their employees are almost certainly going to go for the "real" Windows 8 devices. They'll be more powerful, more flexible, and more manageable by enterprise management consoles. They'll also be more expensive and heavier. The more I look at Windows 8, the more I believe that the expense will be worth it to many organizations, but companies instituting BYOD programs need to be very clear about the versions of Windows 8 they can accept, and quite proactive about publishing guidelines before the avalanche of new machines that's sure to follow the holiday season.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
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The_Phil   Make the RT Windows 8 Decision   1/18/2013 8:59:13 PM
Re: Licensing Issues
True. That power is formed in groups!
batye   Make the RT Windows 8 Decision   1/2/2013 12:13:50 AM
Re: Licensing Issues

The_Phil " Knowledge is key." 
but it also power... gives ability/empowering workers to succeed...
The_Phil   Make the RT Windows 8 Decision   12/31/2012 6:42:29 PM
Re: Licensing Issues
Absolutely. Another reason why I think it's better to have public forums and discuss the challenges you face on a daily basis. This way, there is a better understanding of how people work and what's required of them. Knowledge is key.
nasimson   Make the RT Windows 8 Decision   12/30/2012 10:00:39 AM
Re: Licensing Issues
@The_Phil: Yes exactly. that's what I was trying to refer to. People actually have the habit of misjudging other people. Especially their jobs. We think the person in the other department might be having the best time of his life without even realizing what kind of workload he must be experiencing.
The_Phil   Make the RT Windows 8 Decision   12/29/2012 1:30:47 PM
Re: Licensing Issues
What proportions are you referring to? With perceived workload?
WaqasAltaf   Make the RT Windows 8 Decision   12/29/2012 9:07:54 AM
Re: Every change, new challenge for IT guys
@ Zaius

This Microsoft strategy of product segmentation is a good thing to have and Microsoft succeeded quite well in its Xbox venture with this strategy. However, you are right and like the confusion that was there at the time of Xbox 360 introduction, today many non-tech savvy users are concerned in a similar way.
WaqasAltaf   Make the RT Windows 8 Decision   12/29/2012 9:02:10 AM
Re: Licensing Issues
@ The_Phil

"Even though they cannot get their jobs done without it, still seems like it works with just the flip of a switch."

Our expectations have become very high from technology and it is no more a luxury. It is ok to view it as a commodity as long as you have an objective of deriving maximum benefit from it.
nasimson   Make the RT Windows 8 Decision   12/29/2012 4:08:14 AM
Re: Licensing Issues
@The_Phil: Happens all the time. People lack the sense of proportion I guess,
nasimson   Make the RT Windows 8 Decision   12/29/2012 4:07:06 AM
Re: What Decision?
@WaqasAltaf: Non compatibility is surely one of the important reasons since in my case I use softwares whose newer versions are launched every year thus forcing you to install the newer version of the OS. Apart from it I always tend to move forward because of the security concerns. 
The_Phil   Make the RT Windows 8 Decision   12/20/2012 1:50:22 PM
Re: Licensing Issues
Correct. It's hard for people to empathize with you when they think your job is too easy compared to theirs.
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