Connecting Technology and Business.

Things to keep in mind while using mobile phones

  1. Buy a branded phone.
  2. Ensure that the phone has a proper IMEI number, which is a code that identifies each phone. Check that the number on the phone corresponds to that on the box and receipts.
  3. It is considered wise to check the accessories such as earphones, battery and charger.
  4. Make sure the battery description such as voltage value matches with that of the charger to avoid overcharging which sometimes lead to explosion of handset.
  5. Avoid using the phone while the battery is being charged. If you wish to receive a call during this time, disconnect the phone from charger before connecting the call.
  6. Ensure it is not over-charged by removing the electric supply when the battery is fully charged.
  7. If your battery seems to have swollen, replace it immediately.
  8. The anti-virus software for mobile phones are not very effective today. That is why one should avoid downloading anything from a third party vendor, ie directly from the internet browser. Instead use the in-built store or market application provided by the operating system.
  9. Malware, which is software that takes advantage of a bug in the operating system of the phone, often gets downloaded with third party tools.
  10. Make sure the sites that you visit using the phone must start with an https (which means they are encrypted or safe sites).
  11. Avoid using public or unsecured Wi-Fi connections. A hacker could access the mobile device through a port that is not secured.
  12. Make sure the Bluetooth connectivity is not switched on in public places as it can be used to send malicious files which corrupt the operating system.
  13. While communicating using your cell phone, try to keep the cell phone away from the body as this would reduce the strength of the electromagnetic field of the radiations.
  14. Whenever possible, use the speaker-phone mode or a wireless blue tooth headset. For long conversations, use a landline phone.
  15. Avoid carrying your cell phone on your body at all times. Do not keep it near your body at night such as under pillow or a bedside table, particularly if pregnant. You can also put it on 'flight' or 'offline' mode, which stops electromagnetic emissions.
  16. Avoid using your cell phone when signal is weak or when moving at high speed, such as in car or train.
  17. If your phone gets wet, dismantle it by removing battery, SIM and memory cards and switch it off (only SIM card in case of an iPhone). Dry each component thoroughly (but gently) with a towel until the phone is dry to the touch. Avoid using it for 12 – 24 hrs and put it in a bowl that contains silica gel packets during that time to demoisturize it.
  18. Never use a hair dryer to dry the phone quicker.
  19. Avoid using mobile phones too close to your mouth regularly or holding cell phone in your mouth frequently. This might lead to malignant salivary gland cancer and tumours in the mouth. (There is no conclusive evidence that mobile phones are safe and don't cause cancer).
  20. Regular cell phone users who speak with the phone held too close to the face are prone to problems like sleep disturbance, migraine and headache.

-Inputs from Techera Securities

BitLocker and BitLocker To Go

​Today, more laptops are sold than are desktops. And tablet PCs have exceeded sales than all PCs put together. The reason – Mobility. People are expected to provide data wherever they are – whether in Office or outside. And how can they do that if they don't have access to data? Data is expected to travel with the user and has resulted in a crawl of devices.

"A desktop on every desk" was the vision of Microsoft's Bill Gates which today seems a puny aspiration. Most of the users handle more than two devices at any given time. So the data that is being carried in the laptops and tablets are prone to mishandling or pilferage. Moreover, since these devices are portable, it is carried everywhere and the risk of losing them by misplacing them or being stolen is very high and real. This is when we need to seriously look at protecting the data in these devices.

Microsoft has included a very powerful feature in its new client OS called the BitLocker to prevent loss of data due to the loss of the device. (This was available even in the Windows Vista OS but has picked up popularity lately with the Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 OSs flooding the scene within a short span of three years). BitLocker protects the data in a hard disk from unauthorized access by encrypting it and enabling decryption of data using a password. Here are some additional details:

  • Prevents unauthorized access to data on lost or stolen PCs
  • Supports full volume encryption of OS and Data volumes
  • Offers variety of pre-boot authentication options:
    • TPM*-only, PIN/Password, Network Unlock, USB storage
  • Supports PCs, Servers, and "Slate" form factors

TPM - Trusted Platform Module - an additional security hardware chip built inside the PC system.

Since external storage devices like pen drives and other USB devices are extensively being used, the need for protecting the data in these devices was also felt. Windows 8/8.1 has this additional security feature in place in the name of BitLocker to Go. Here are some additional details on this feature:

  • Used to protect data on removable drives
  • Able to deny or grant write access to volumes by organization
  • Enables read-only access on Windows Vista & Windows XP

Why should one consider retiring Win XP today?

Windows XP is reaching EOS on April 8th 2014.

What does it mean to users?

  • Users will no longer receive security patches, hotfixes, or incident support.
  • Running on an older OS platform is - on a technical level - less secure, more difficult to manage, and expensive to maintain
  • Running on an older OS platform also exposes customer to business and regulatory risks they need to manage. Users may incur costs as well as the technical issues relating to custom support.

Over the past 13 years, Microsoft has made considerable advancements in its operating system to increase end user productivity, enhance security and control, while reducing overall IT cost through streamlined PC management.  While the innovations from Windows XP were game changers back in 2001, users today need more than the desktop of ten years ago to stay competitive in the 21st century. Users today require more technology choice to meet the diverse workstyles they need to get the job done. The days of post-it reminders sitting at their 15" CRT monitor with multiple Windows open on one device (Windows XP machine) will not enable users to get the job done and the businesses to remain competitive in a global economic landscape.

Anywhere, any time is the new normal. People work from multiple locations and from multiple devices (according to Forrester's "2013 Mobile Workforce adoption trends):

29% of global workforce can be characterized as "anywhere, anytime" information workers, up from 23% in 2011

Nearly 80% of workers spend at least some portion of their time working out of the office

BYOD is growing and going mainstream; mobile devices, smartphones and tablets are a fast growing category

According to analysts (Forrester) we will see 905M tablets in use for work and home by 2017.

From the same study, today BYOD scenarios span at least 258M of the global info workers and it is all but unavoidable. According to ZDNet and TechRepublic's BYOD Business Strategy Survey, 62% of companies either already have Bring Your Own Device allowances in place, or plan to by the end of 2013.

Mobile devices require apps - and Mobile apps are a fast growing category as well (anecdotally, Windows Store exceeded 100M app installs 90 days after Launch in October'12; number of apps in Store quadrupled in the same time)

According to some estimates, by 2015, mobile application development projects targeting smartphones and tablets will outnumber native PC projects by a ratio of 4-to-1.

66% of organizations are investing in mobile app development, according to "Building a Mobility Strategy" - Corporate Executive Board. March 2012.

This dynamic, connected, global environment creates new opportunities for companies, to drive new business, however it also means a tremendous challenge for enterprises today  - enabling mobile professional  securely and efficiently – introduces lots of complexity.

Mobility (and Mobile technologies) has become one of the top technology priorities for CIOs in 2012. According to Gartner's "Amplifying the Enterprise:  the 2012 CIO Agenda", mobile technologies are #2 in CIO priorities list in 2012, after #3 in 2011 as a result of the complexity and challenge companies face as they try to tackle the new opportunities.

There are 3 key reasons to retire Windows XP and move to a modern OS (Windows 7 and Windows 8).

  • Get Value with Windows 7 and Windows 8 today
  • Eliminate Risks of Windows XP End of Support
  • Deployment is easier than you think

Get Value with Windows 7 and Windows 8 today

Windows 8 compatibility with Windows 7 gives customers flexibility to have a custom adoption path that best works for them, bringing in Windows 8 for targeted scenarios side by side with Windows 7 in their environment. Both Windows 7 and Windows 8 deliver significant benefits over Windows XP.

Getting Value with Windows 7

Windows 7 offers customers a number of proven benefits - high performance and responsiveness, modern UI, helping to increase end user productivity.  Windows 7 Enterprise offers great   advancements to IT organizations - for example, Windows 7 provides a more protected and secure environment than Windows XP with BitLocker™ Drive Encryption and Bitlocker to Go helping to ensure sensitive data is protected in your organization, right out of the box.

Other  great Windows 7 Enterprise capabilities that allow business customers  to  increase user productivity and mobility  while  helping to save costs and ensure high standards on enterprise data protection, security, manageability -  include features such as Applocker,  DirectAccess, PowerShell and many other great features.  Additionally, customers are leaving money on the table by staying on Windows XP as opposed to moving to Windows 7.

For example:

  • Bombardier Aerospace saved $160K in third party security licensing using security enhancements built into Windows 7
  • Leading financial services firm, Baker Tilly has quantified a $191 (US) per PC savings by moving to Windows 7
  • Overall  our TCO studies demonstrated up to 20%  savings in just direct IT costs

Getting Value with Windows 8 today

Windows 8 delivered experiences and devices that users want; while providing companies with enterprise grade solutions,. Here are specific investments we are making with Windows 8  for the enterprise.

Devices and Experiences Users Love.

Great Tablet for Business Users. We hear from business users today that they have to choose between convenience and productivity. With Windows 8 tablet, users can have a "no compromise" experience. Windows 8 delivers Touch first experience along with full support for mouse and keyboard – no compromise experience where users can have the convenience and mobility of a tablet, power and familiar experience of the full PC and ease to effortlessly move between work and personal activities. Also, with Windows 8, tablets users can have connected experience with apps from the Windows Store, while they also can use desktop LOB and productivity apps they use today on Windows7.

New Possibilities in Mobile Productivity. Windows 8 delivers other technologies that help people stay productive as they are increasingly mobile.

Enterprise Grade Solutions

Enhanced end to end security. From client device to network to back end infrastructure, Windows 8 offers features that improve the security and reliability of the systems in your organization. From power-on to power-off, Windows 8 provides a more secure foundation to help keep your businesses running.

Management and Virtualization Advancements. Windows 8 includes enhancements to manageability and virtualization features to help IT administrators manage their client PCs.

Eliminate Risks of Windows XP End of Support

Windows XP end of support is less than 1 year away and most enterprise deployments can take 18 to 24 months leaving little time to plan, test and deploy a new OS, while still being on supported software.

Customers need to migrate their PC fleet prior to EOS date to avoid the significant risk of running unsupported software (with no access to security updates and any other public support from Microsoft); and potential Custom Support costs.

Custom Support agreements to receive critical security fixes, non-security (bug) fixes and paid incidents can be as much as $200K per year for SA customers and up to $500K per year for non-SA customers.

Gartner, in their June 2011 report stressed their urgency to retire Win XP and deploy Win 7.

Gartner predicted that more than 50% of organizations that had not started deploying Windows 7 by early 2012 will not complete their deployments before Windows XP support ends, and will incur increased support costs.

Gartner predicts many independent software vendors (ISVs) are unlikely to support new versions of applications on Windows XP.  (That includes Office 2013 that is not supported on Windows XP).

Gartner further ads PC OEMs are likely to reduce the number of PC models for which XP drivers are available.

Additionally, Office 2003 shares the same EOS date of April 8, 2014  – so no security fixes there either.  

Deployment is easier than you think

Microsoft offers a variety of tools and resources to help with the deployment project

Leverage Available Programs

  • Migration path: The Deployment Project
  • Accelerate programs - Jumpstart PoCs & Pilots and other deployment resources
  • Springboard Series on TechNet

Take advantage of high compatibility between Windows 7 & Windows 8

  • Windows 7 apps run on Windows 8
  • Windows 7 devices perform with  Windows 8 faster than with Windows 7
  • Windows 8 works well with customers' existing Windows 7 infrastructure
  • Customers can deploy Windows 7 side by side with Windows 8
  • Building on the strong fundamentals, Windows 7 delivers the key capabilities that enterprise customers have asked for –enabling user productivity and giving users anytime, anywhere access to information they need to get their work done; while providing tools for IT to support their business securely, protect corporate data, achieve cost efficiencies, and take advantage of the virtualization trends in the client computing arena.

Make Users Productive Anywhere. Work from home, on the road, or in a branch office and be as productive as if you were at a desk in headquarters.

Enhance Security & Control. Extend the security foundation with encryption for portable (USB) drives and IT control over which applications can run.

Streamline PC Management. Windows 7 makes it easier to manage and deploy desktops, laptops, and virtual environments while leveraging the same tools and skills you use now.

With Windows 8 Microsoft is taking their commitment to deliver experiences and devices that users love and demand; along with enterprise grade solutions, on the new level.

Here are specific investments Microsoft is making with Windows 8.

Devices and Experiences Users Love.

Great Tablet for Business Users. We hear from business users today that they have to choose between convenience and productivity. With Windows 8 tablet (specifically x86 Tablet), users can have a "no compromise" experience. Windows 8 delivers Touch first experience along with full support for mouse and keyboard – no compromise experience where users can have the convenience and mobility of a tablet, power and familiar experience of the full PC and ease to effortlessly move between work and personal activities. Also, with Windows 8, tablets users can have connected experience with apps from the Windows Store, while they also can use desktop LOB and productivity apps they use today on Windows7.

New Possibilities in Mobile Productivity. Windows 8 can deliver other technologies that help people stay productive. In particular, it will help people stay productive as they are increasingly mobile.

Enterprise Grade Solutions.

Enhanced end to end security. From client device to network to back end infrastructure, Windows 8 offers features that improve the security and reliability of the systems in your organization. From power-on to power-off, Windows 8 provides a more secure foundation to help keep your businesses running.

Management and Virtualization Advancements. Windows 8 includes enhancements to manageability and virtualization features to help IT administrators manage their client PCs.

Looking at the key threats and how these evolved over time shows that only Modern OSs (Windows 7 and Windows 8) are fully equipped to secure the end user the organizations from external attacks.

Consider migrating to Windows 7 and Windows 8 to take advantage of the new features of the latest versions of Windows to improve security, end user productivity and supportability.

Extended support for Windows 7 will be provided until 2020


  • Security Updates and patches to discontinue.
  • No more product fixes and service packs
  • No. of patches released in last 2 years below
Operating SystemNo. of Patches
Windows XP Professional with SP23
Windows XP Professional with SP3154


  • Organizations that continue to be on Windows XP will expose themselves to security risks and in unsupported environment
  • End of Support will leave users of XP unprotected from future security threats like Remote Code Execution (RCE) or Denial Of Service (DOS)
  • As previously mentioned, if users haven't already moved to the new OS, now is the time to begin XP migrations. Users still running Windows XP in April 2014 will face the risk of running unsupported software. Further, most new hardware options will likely not support the Windows XP operating system.
  • Organizations should look at deploying Windows 7 and getting all the benefits from this Operating system. Microsoft advises customers to look at adopting Windows 7 and Windows 8 side-by-side.
  • Especially, users that would like to take advantage of the new tablet and slate devices, should look into deploying Windows 8. Those types of devices are great for a variety of different types of users. Users will also want to start building applications that can leverage the Windows 8 experience. So those are great areas in which to begin investigations.
  • To get ready for Windows 8, there are some infrastructure preparations that should be undertaken. For example, you need to make sure your management tools and security software fully support Windows 8.  But given the growing trends around "bring your own device" scenarios, you also should plan for supporting employee-owned Windows 8 (and Windows RT) devices on your corporate network.
  • When you decide to deploy a new Windows operating system, you need to do a significant amount of preparation. First, you need to make sure all of your applications have been identified and are ready to go. In some cases, that might mean testing; in other cases, it might mean packaging them and making them available for installation, either during the deployment process or later from an enterprise app store. 
  • In parallel to that, you need to make sure your infrastructure is ready for the operating system. For example, you may need to make sure that your systems management tools have been upgraded to the needed version for the new OS. You probably need to perform some steps to make sure the new Windows version can be properly activated. And there's always the opportunity to make infrastructure upgrades to support new functionality such as Direct Access. 
  • While those preparation tasks are going on, you need to create a master image for the new OS. Over the years, this process has matured with the current recommended practice to be a completely-automated process that requires no user interaction – when it's time to create a new image, make slight adjustments to the process, then kick off the process to create a new image – come back an hour or two later and the process is complete. 
  • Then there is the deployment process itself: taking that image and installing it on new and existing computers. This too should be completely automated and well-tested so that you have confidence that it will take care of all the finer points: migrating all the user settings and data, reinstalling the applications, etc. – basically, making sure that the user can be immediately productive (and happy) once the deployment completes.
  • It's also important to note that none of this should be considered throw-away or one-time work. In fact, there are a lot of benefits to continue maintaining this process and using it even after the new OS deployment project has completed. Think about break-fix scenarios – when you have a good, trusted process, you can adopt new support policies such as "let's rebuild the computer if we can't solve the problem within an hour", reducing overall support costs. There are also always new computers being purchased, new applications or application versions being acquired, etc. This really is a permanent infrastructure investment.
  • There are a lot of tools that you can use for your deployment project. All of these mentioned here are offered by Microsoft at no cost.
    • MDT - Microsoft Deployment Toolkit
    • WDS - Windows Deployment Server
    • ACT - Application Compatibility Toolkit
    • MAP - Microsoft Assessment & Planning Toolkit

OneDrive - the one place to store and share all of your favourite things

SkyDrive is OneDrive today. Microsoft projects it as the one place to store and share photos, videos, documents and other files-anywhere, on any device and this service is available for free. Over the next few months, users may continue to see both SkyDrive and OneDrive throughout their experience, but they don't have to worry! They will still be able to access all of their files during the transition. OneDrive is everything people love about SkyDrive and more.

One place for all your photos and videos

Users can automatically capture and store their favourite photos and videos from their phone so they can get them from all their devices and easily share the ones they want.

One place for all your documents, personal mails, contacts and appointments

OneDrive.png Users can create and edit important Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents, store them all in one place, and access them on any device. Office Web Apps provides the power to the users to create and share files this way. Default file formats can also be set to enable easy creation of documents on one click.

One place for all devices

Users can access their OneDrive files from just about any device including PCs, tablets, Macs, Windows Phones, iPhones, Android devices, and more.

Folders can be created and files can be organised in them. Every individual folder can be made shareable or locked for private use. Files can be shared with people by allowing them to access them securely using a password. Notification about the availability of a file or folder for download or view can also be sent directly from OneDrive that generates a mail with the content and a customizable message.

And More...

You can create appointments in your personal calendar, add contact information and access your Outlook.com mails from the OneDrive.

Users can sync Windows phone's contacts with the People feature of OneDrive and also add people to the contact list from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Gmail. A complete set of contacts from a file that contains this list can also be imported. (Users have to export the list from the existing mail program and then import it here). Users can also export these contacts from OneDrive to another mail program if required.

Tasks and appointments can be managed and organized in the OneDrive Calendar and this further can be shared with the concerned people.

You need a Microsoft account to use this powerful feature and a Microsoft live account can be created easily in seconds to start using OneDrive.

7 GB of storage is available for every user. Microsoft also offers additional storage apart from this 7 GB - 20 GB Enthusiast bonus valid through almost the end of the year, Referrals bonus for referring users through various social networking sites and a Camera Roll bonus of 3GB for those who want to sync one or more of their windows mobile camera folders with the cloud storage.

Tagging of people to your account as well as to the photos in shared albums is possible in OneDrive. The devices that will back their content to this cloud storage can also be added and their settings customized in OneDrive.

Even an Excel based survey can be conduct using the Survey feature offered by OneDrive which can be sent to people to arrive at a consensus or to do research on a particular topic of mutual interest.

OneDrive apps are available from the Apps store for the Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 OS users as well as those using a Windows mobile.

A recycle bin is also available – just in case…

Windows 8.1 – All You Wanted To Know (4) - Miracast

Miracast is a peer-to-peer wireless screencasting standard formed via Wi-Fi direct connections in a manner similar to Bluetooth. It enables wireless delivery of audio and video to or from desktops, tablets, mobile phones, and other devices. It allows users to, for example, echo display from a phone or tablet onto a TV, share a laptop screen with the conference room projector in real-time, and watch live programs from a home cable box on a tablet. Both the sending and receiving devices must support Miracast for the technology to work. However, to stream music and movies to a device, such as a TV, that does not support Miracast, adapters are available that plug into HDMI or USB ports.

The protocol uses a direct Wi-Fi connection between the two devices without involvement of a wireless router and cannot be used to stream to a router access point. It was created by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

With this new wireless display technology, you can project from your Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.1 RT device to a Miracast-enabled TV, projector, or streaming media player, in just a few clicks. You can use this to share what you're doing on your device, present a slide show in a meeting, or even stream your favourite movie on a larger screen at home. The new Windows and Miracast help you work the way you want to.

To add a wireless display to your PC:

Open the Devices charm. Tap or click Project and then Add a Wireless Display. Choose the wireless display in the list of devices found, and follow the instructions on the screen.

To project your screen to a wireless display:

Open the Devices charm. Tap or click Project and then select the wireless display you want.

Miracast works with supported Windows 8.1 devices and Miracast-enabled displays. If a TV or projector doesn't currently have Miracast support, you can easily use a Miracast receiver, like the ActionTec ScreenBeam Pro or Netgear Push2TV (PTV3000) to enable your display to use this technology.

Windows 8.1 – All You Wanted To Know (3) – Use your Keyboard

​Windows 8.1 in your system but no touchscreen? Don't despair. Here is a lot you can do with your keyboard…You can use the keyboard to get to places fast when you use the following keyboard shortcuts

Win + DToggle to Display and Hide the desktop
Win + XAccess the Quick link menu
Win + EAccess the File Explorer (earlier known as Windows explorer)
Ctrl + Shift + EscAccess the Task manager
Win + X + Down arrowOpen Mobility center
Win + Start typingSearch for a file, device or app
Win + Down arrowClose a Modern App
Win + TabSwitch between recently used app and the desktop
Alt + TabSwitch between all apps – including desktop apps
Win + Shift + TabCycle through recently used apps (except desktop apps) in reverse order
Win + PChoose a presentation display mode
Win + SpacebarSwitch input language and Keyboard layout
Ctrl + T (In IE 11)Open a new Tab in IE 11
Ctrl + tab (In IE 11)Switch between tabs in IE 11
Ctrl + Scroll wheelZoom in or out to better view things like the apps pinned to the Start screen

Windows 8.1 – All You Wanted To Know (1)

With the new Windows 8.1, you have everything you need to work efficiently. Your familiar desktop is better than ever with advanced functionalities, like the new Task Manager and streamlined file management. Internet Explorer 11 gives you instant and fluid access to the world. And best of all, you can use all these features feeling confident that your important data is secure.

Whether you are collaborating on a large project, preparing for an upcoming conference, or traveling for work, you can use touch, mouse, and keyboard together—seamlessly—to accomplish your every task.

With the advanced features of Windows 8.1, you can get the most out of your device. Windows works the way you want it to.

You can use a Mouse as well to work in Windows 8.1. So, it is not essential that you would need a touchenabled device to run Windows 8.1.

Here is a quick table on what you can do using Touch and its equivalent for Mouse

Access the Quick Link menu Right-click the Start button. Press and hold the Start button.

Pin application to taskbar.


Open the Search charm, and enter the name of the app you want to pin in the search box. In the search results, right-click the desired app and then click Pin to taskbar.Open the Search charm, and enter the name of the app you want to pin in the search box. In the search results, press and hold the desired app and then tap Pin to taskbar.

Open Task Manager.


Right-click the Start button, and select Task Manager.Press and hold the Start button, and select Task Manager from the Quick Link menu. Tap More details to see detailed information.

Open Mobility Center.


Right-click the Start button, and select Mobility Center.Press and hold the Start button, and select Mobility Center.

Open a new tab in Internet Explorer 11.


In IE 11, right-click anywhere on the screen to bring up the tabs, and then click the New tab button.In Internet Explorer 11, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up the tabs, and then tap the New tab button.

Switch between tabs in Internet Explorer 11.


In IE 11, right-click anywhere on the screen to bring up the tabs. Now you can switch between your open tabs.In Internet Explorer 11, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up the tabs. Now you can switch between your open tabs.

Add a wireless display to your PC.


Open the Devices charm. Click Project and then click Add a wireless display.Open the Devices charm. Tap Project and then tap Add a wireless display.

Project your screen to a wireless display.


Open the Devices charm. Click Project and then select the wireless display you want.Open the Devices charm. Tap Project and then select the display you want.
Add an AccountOpen the Settings charm, and click Change PC Settings. Click Accounts, Other accounts, then click Add an account.Open the Settings charm, and then tap Change PC Settings. Tap Accounts, Other accounts, then tap Add an account

Windows 8.1 - All You Wanted To Know (2) - Here is some Technical stuff

What's New in Windows 8.1

Windows 8 brings a modern computing experience to businesses and helps professionals stay connected to their colleagues and clients from anywhere, anytime. Windows 8.1 advances this vision and introduces new manageability, mobility, security, user experience and networking capabilities with the goal of offering customers the best business tablets and versatile modern business PCs driven by the most powerful operating system designed for today's modern businesses.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Enhancements

Workplace Join

A Windows 8 PC was either domain joined or not.  If it was a member of the domain, the user could access corporate resources (if permissioned) and IT could control the PC through group policy and other mechanisms.  This feature allows a middle ground between all or nothing access, allowing a user to work on the device of their choice and still have access to corporate resources. With Workplace Join, IT administrators now have the ability to offer finer-grained control to corporate resources.  If a user registers their device, IT can grant some access while still enforcing some governance parameters on the device.

Work Folders

Work Folders allows a user to sync data to their device from their user folder located in the corporation's data center. Files created locally will sync back to the file server in the corporate environment. This syncing is natively integrated into the file system.  Note, this all happens outside the firewall client sync support. Previously, Windows 8 devices needed to be domain joined (or required domain credentials) for access to file shares.  Syncing could be done with third-party folder replication apps. With Work Folders, Users can keep local copies of their work files on their devices, with automatic synchronization to your data center, and for access from other devices. IT can enforce Dynamic Access Control policies on the Work Folder Sync Share (including automated Rights Management) and require Workplace Join to be in place.

Open MDM

While many organizations have investments with System Center and will continue to leverage these investments we also know that many organizations want to manage certain classes of devices, like tablets and BYOD devices, as mobile devices. With Windows 8.1, you can use an OMA-DM API agent to allow management of Windows 8.1 devices with mobile device management products, like Mobile Iron or Air Watch.

Mobile Device Management

When a user enrolls their device, they are joining the device to the Windows Intune management service.  They get access to the Company Portal which provides a consistent experience for access to their applications, data and to manage their own devices.  This allows a deeper management experience with existing tools like Windows Intune. IT administrators now have deeper policy management for Windows RT devices, and can manage Windows 8.1 PCs as mobile devices without having deploy a full management client.

Web Application Proxy

The Web Application Proxy is a new role service in the Windows Server Remote Access role. It provides the ability to publish access to corporate resources, and enforce multi-factor authentication as well as apply conditional access policies to verify both the user's identity and the device they are using resources, and enforce multi-factor authentication as well as verify the device being used before access is granted.

RDS Enhancements

Win 8.1 supports enhanced Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) in Windows Server 2012 R2 with improvements in management, value, and user experience. Session Shadowing allows administrators to view and remotely control active user sessions in an RDSH server. Disk dedupe and storage tiering allow for lower cost storage options. User experience for RemoteApps, network connectivity and multiple displays has been improved. Administrators can now easily support users with session desktops to provide helpdesk style support. Administrators now have even more flexible storage options to support a VDI environment without expensive SAN investments. End users will find RemoteApp behavior is more like local apps, and the experience in low-bandwidth is better, with faster reconnects and improved compression, and support for multiple monitors.

NFC Tap-to-pair Printing

Users can tap their Windows 8.1 device against an enterprise NFC-enabled printer and you're all set to print. No more hunting on the network for the correct printer and no need to buy a special printer to take advantage of this functionality. Users need to simply attach an NFC tag to their existing printers to enable this functionality.

Wi-Fi Direct Printing

Win 8.1 users can connect to Wi-Fi Direct printers without adding additional drivers or software on their Windows 8.1 device, forming a peer-to-peer network between their device and the printer.

Native Miracast Wireless Display

Win 8.1 enables users to present their work wirelessly with no connection cords needed; users just pair their device with a Miracast-enabled projector via NFC and Miracast will use Wi-Fi to let them project wire-free.

Mobility Enhancements


Microsoft has added support for a wider range of VPN clients in both Windows and Windows RT devices. They have also added the ability to have an app automatically trigger VPN connections. 

Mobile Broadband

At Windows 8 launch, the devices had embedded radios that were separate components within the devices.  Windows 8.1 supports embedded wireless radio, which gives users increased power savings, longer battery life, also enables thinner form factors and lower cost devices. 

Windows To Go

With Windows To Go in Windows 8.1, the Windows Store is enabled by default. Windows To Go users may roam to any number of machines and access the Windows Store and use Windows Store apps. 

Broadband Tethering

Now turning a Windows 8.1 mobile broadband-enabled PC or tablet into a personal Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing other devices to connect and access the internet is easy.

Auto-triggered VPN

When users select an app or resource that needs access through the inbox VPN – like a company's intranet site – Windows 8.1 will automatically prompt them to sign in with one click. This feature is available with Microsoft and third-party inbox VPN clients.

Security Enhancements

Remote Business Data Removal

Corporations now have more control over corporate content which can be marked as corporate, encrypted, and then be wiped when the relationship between the corporation and user has ended. Corporate data can now be identified as corporate vs. user, encrypted, and wiped on command using EAS or EAS + OMA-DM protocol. This capability requires implementation in the client application and in the server application (Mail + Exchange Server). The client application determines if the wipe simply makes the data inaccessible or actually deletes it. 

Improved Biometrics

All Win 8.1 SKUs will include end to end biometric capabilities that enable authenticating with user's biometric identity anywhere in Windows (Windows sign-in, remote access, User Account Control, etc.). Windows 8.1 will also be optimized for fingerprint based biometrics and will include a common fingerprint enrollment experience that will work with a variety of readers (touch, swipe). Modern readers are touch based rather than swipe and include liveliness detection that prevents spoofing (e.g.: silicon emulated fingerprints). Access to Windows Store Apps, functions within them, and certificate release can be gated based on verification of a user's biometric identity.

Pervasive Device Encryption

Device encryption previously found on Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 is now available in all editions of Windows. It is enabled out of the box and can be configured with additional BitLocker protection and management capability on the Pro and Enterprise SKUs. Consumer devices are automatically encrypted and protected when using a Microsoft account. Data on any Windows connected standby device is automatically protected (encrypted) with device encryption. Organizations that need to manage encryption can easily take add additional BitLocker protection options and manageability to these devices.  

Improved Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 11 improvements include faster page load times, side-by-side browsing of your sites, enhanced pinned site notifications, and app settings like favorites, tabs and settings sync across all Windows 8.1 PCs. Internet Explorer 11 now includes capability that enables an antimalware solution to scan the input for a binary extension before it is passed onto the extension for execution.

Malware Resistance

Windows Defender, Microsoft's free antivirus solution in Windows 8, will include network behavior monitoring to help detect and stop the execution of known and unknown malware. Internet Explorer will scan binary extensions (e.g. ActiveX) using the antimalware solution before potentially harmful code is executed.

Device Lockdown

With Assigned Access, a new feature offered in Windows 8.1 RT, Windows 8.1 Pro, and Windows 8.1 Enterprise, users can enable a single Windows Store application experience on the device. This can be things like a learning application for kids in an educational setting or a customer service application at a boutique, Assigned Access can ensure the device is delivering the intended experience. In Microsoft's Windows Embedded 8.1 industry product, they deliver additional lockdown capabilities to meet the needs of industry devices like point of sale systems, ATMs, and digital signs.

Modern UI Experience

Variable, Continuous Size of Snap Views

Win 8.1 users have more ways to see multiple apps on the screen at once. When displaying multiple apps at once, they can easily resize the width of the app window to suit their needs. Depending on screen size and resolution, they can even share the screen with three, or four apps on each monitor.

Boot to Desktop

Microsoft has made configuration options available which will allow users to boot directly to the desktop in Windows 8.1.

Desktop and Start Screen

Improvements have been made to better support users who prefer a mouse and keyboard experience to access applications.

PowerBI – The Most Powerful Business Intelligence Offer Ever From Microsoft

​Business Intelligence has become an essential weapon in the armoury of enterprises today that desire to compete with the best in their industry. Software vendors have been catering to the needs of these enterprises by providing power to them through their software. IBMs SPSS and Cognos are examples to cite here. Microsoft also has been providing power to its customers through its SQL database and its data analysis and reporting services for a long time now.

Providing the BI power to the common man who used very simple tools like Excel was Microsoft's long time aspiration. The data analysis tool pack that was available as add-on to the basic Excel was not enough to meet the demand of the already competitive market scenario. The data visualization features in Conditional formatting of Excel 2007 was a great leap from the traditional way by which data was presented. The acquisition of PerformancePoint was a shot in the arm for Microsoft. Excel Services was one of the first steps towards empowering the end-user with the capabilities of BI in the enterprise. It enabled the users to present dynamic visual reports like dashboards and KPIs in the SharePoint portal.

With the entry of PowerPivot in Office 2010 there happened to be a drastic change in the way the normal Excel user has been enabled to handle, analyse, interpret and present data. It accommodated millions of rows of data in Excel for analysis and interpretation. Data models could be built on such huge volumes of data extracted from various sources like database tables of SQL and Access apart from Excel Pivot tables. It also currently allows data to be imported from non-Microsoft databases like Oracle, Teradata, Sybase, Informix, IBM DB2 or any system or ODBC that could provide data through OLE DB.

PowerPivot data sources.png 

PowerView in Excel 2013 enhanced the ease with which users could interpret data. PowerQuery and PowerMaps are currently in preview which will add to the kitty of BI tools from Microsoft.

I will post more about this topic in the coming days.

Binary Large Object Bitmap (BLOB) Storage in the Cloud

Very large digital objects that are unstructured and could not be fit in databases directly are today stored by database management systems as Binary Large Objects (BLOBs) or Basic large Objects. Such kind of data could be graphical images, audio or video or even binary executable codes (or simply .exe files). Though not every database system supports this kind of data type, all major database systems like SQL, Oracle and DB2 help store such BLOBs. In fact, DB2 was the earliest to popularize this technology and allowed users to store such collection of binary data as a single entity and consume them in their systems as complete units at a time.

Originally, BLOB was not an acronym and stood for just unstructured chunks of data. Later it was given the current expansion of Basic large object or the latest and widely used expansion Binary large Object.

At the time when data came to be stored in databases, there was no means of storing this kind of large data in any particular field with a defined data type. With limited storage available at a huge cost, storing such data in databases were not even thought of and were stored as separate simple single continuous sequential files. After the storage spaces for data became cheap, databases started supporting this large data type that can contain amorphous or unstructured data.

Today, Remote BLOB store (RBS) for SQL Server lets database administrators store binary large objects (BLOBs) in commodity storage solutions instead of directly on the server. This saves a significant amount of space and avoids wasting expensive server hardware resources. RBS provides a set of API libraries that define a standardized model for applications to access BLOB data. RBS also includes maintenance tools, such as garbage collection, to help manage remote BLOB data.

Microsoft's online Infrastructure and Platform as services Windows Azure and SQL Azure store all data in the cloud in this format. Since this data in replicated multiple times in the various datacentres to provide redundancy, Multiple downloads of the same chunk of data becomes simplified and much faster because of the convenience this kind of BLOB storage offers.

Microsoft Access tables also allows storage of Blobs in a field with the OLE Object data type.