IP EXPO 2015: Security and productivity with Windows 10 in the enterprise

It's hard to get away from Microsoft at the moment so, at IP EXPO Europe 2015, I was of course drawn towards the company's Windows 10 enterprise keynote.

"Transformation" was the word of the day for speakers Robert Epstein (Windows 10 Launch Lead) and Steve Newby (Windows 10 Lead), who identified that the demands of the end user has changed, meaning IT has had to change with it.

In the modern world, users want to consume more data, have access to more apps and are now blurring the lines between their work lives and personal lives with an 'always connected' mentality.

As Epstein put it, "IT was supposed to be something that empowered us and gave us time in our life back.” So, the big challenges for companies today is: “How can IT go back to being the hero rather than the frustration for users?"

One key feature of the modern workforce concerns the mobile worker, who needs access to everything, everywhere, all the time. Enabling mobility is something that, according to Epstein, is a key component of Windows 10, as Microsoft wants users to be able to “pick up where they left off as they transfer from place to place and from device to device."

One way Windows 10 achieves this is through the Continuum feature, which allows users to easily transfer between devices, meaning they can carry on working on a smartphone when walking between offices or buildings, for example. Newby gave us a demo of the features (albeit a rather fumbled one as his mouse decided not to work), showing how “universal apps will scale across all the devices that I’m using."

When it comes to the enterprise, security is of course a key issue. Newby said : “Windows 7 was secure when it came out 8 years ago. The fact is the world has changed,” meaning Microsoft's latest operating system has had to change with it. The costs of keeping mobile devices secure is growing and password resets now account for up to 30 per cent of helpdesk IT costs. Windows 10 aims to change all that.

One way it is doing this is through Enterprise Data Protection, which is all about "containerising corporate data on a device." This means only trusted apps are granted permission to access business information and data separation can take place between corporate and personal data. For example, a financial report can be set to 'business,' meaning the user won't be able to accidentally (or purposefully) share information from that document on social media.

Finally, Newby moved on to productivity, a key concern for execs with a BYOD policy in place. One example given was app compatibility, which is "the biggest, most costly element of migrating an operating system." With Windows 10, there is a 90-95 per cent compatibility ration from Windows 7 and 8, meaning employees can continue to work in the familiar apps they were using before.

Other features to boost productivity that were mentioned include: an ability to preserve user identity through single sign-on access to all cloud apps, in-place upgrates ("the quickest and easiest way to get from Windows 7 to Windows 10") and dynamic provisioning, where employers can take existing Windows 10 devices and change them into a corporate build, without having to start all over again.

In the keynote, Epstein said that “the launch of Windows 10 has been truly inspiring to work on” and it will be interesting to see whether the new operating system will inspire enterprises to adopt it for their employees in the future.

Credit: Shutterstock/Anton Watman