8 Questions (and Answers) about Windows 8

Microsoft does such a great job of having a full solution for enterprises. I’ve heard some people question the costs of the licenses in contrast to other vendors or open source solutions, but there is no open source solution or vendor that can cover everything that Microsoft products can.

It can be really easy to love Microsoft if you’re an IT professional that works on their products. Easy to use GUIs, free training and documentation, and market share that can find you a job in any location.

Still, there are a few nagging questions that can get you wondering, “Is Microsoft ever going to get this right?” Sometimes it seems like Microsoft just messed up a feature, or they just don’t understand what we want to do.

Without further ado, here are my top 8 questions for Windows 8.

1. Why can’t I have Hyper-V on my laptop? What ever happened to Virtual PC?

Client Hyper-V, full featured virtualization software, is finally coming to workstations in Windows 8! Client Hyper-V is installed as a feature, so you don’t have to buy it separately. It includes all of the features that you expect from your virtualization software: virtual networking, shared drives, and most importantly, snapshots.

You can also use the advanced features of Hyper-V on your installation of Windows 8 desktop. For example, Client Hyper-V allows you to automate your virtual environment using PowerShell, and if you’ve got a multipoint touch-enabled device that you’re running client Hyper-V on, you can also use your touch screen on your VMs.

2. When will I be able to use my own tablet as my work computer?

One of the key devices Windows 8 has been aimed at is the tablet. It’s touch ready, and ready for you to take it with you. It has also been designed to help IT departments manage the huge rush of personal devices into the workplace. The consumerization of IT is making end-users the champions of new technology devices, a role that was previously held by the IT staff.

Determining whether or not a computer is yours, or one you’re just using temporarily, is handled by the Windows 8 feature “User Device Affinity.” User device affinity uses usage percentage, amount of time logged in, and number of times logged in to determine if the computer belongs to you enough to call it “your computer.” If it is the computer that you usually use, regardless of who actually owns the computer, your Windows 8 tablet will identify it as a primary device. A new feature in System Center Configuration Manager 2012 allows administrators to target those primary devices for software installations, whether they are company owned or employee owned.

3. How can my Blu-Ray player and TV “boot up” in under a second, but my computer still takes a full minute?

Windows 8 is faster overall, and in many areas. One area in particular where it is dramatically improved is in its startup time. Using partial hibernation, which stores a set of system files and RAM on the hard drive (but not all of the running programs and RAM that would be used in a full hibernation), Windows 8 systems have been booting up from a cold start in under 10 seconds. Solid State Drives report it even faster, almost instantly.

4. Why can’t I take my programs with me to whatever computer I’m at?

Brand new with Windows 8 is Windows To Go. Windows To Go allows IT staff to load a full version of Windows 8 on a USB drive, including the operating system, personal data, and installed programs!

There are some differences in using Windows To Go: You’re presented with a pre-boot password prompt; If you remove the USB device, the computer freezes in place until the USB device is plugged back in; and booting into your Windows To Go disables hard drives on the physical computer to help prevent your data from being compromised.

5. Where is the factory reset button?

If you’ve wished that your HP or Dell PC came with a factory reset button like your home wireless router does, you’ll be happy to see that Windows 8 provides two features that provide functionality for doing just that: Reset and Refresh. Both are now accessible from the Control Panel metro app, and both will fix problems with your PC. Reset takes it back to the day it was purchased: all apps are gone and all user data is gone. Refresh performs a full reinstall of Windows, but saves your user data, most of your preferences, and saves your installed metro apps.

6. Why does malware start on a PC before anti-malware does?

In Windows 8, there looks to be some great strides taken to prevent malware that starts early in the boot process from being able to mess up your system. Trusted Boot in Windows 8 digitally signs your bootup environment, validating the entire process. The loading of anti-malware software is one of the earliest actions performed by Windows 8, so it is running before malware even has a chance to start.

7. How can the world’s largest software company not have an app store?

Microsoft finally reveals an App store on their desktop operating system with Windows 8. Microsoft has already had an app marketplace that is still used with Windows Phone (via Zune software), but you can now have apps purchased, stored, and delivered directly to your desktops, laptops, and tablets running Windows 8.

8. Why in the world can I not mount an ISO on a Windows machine?

Now, after many years that I have been asking this question, you can finally mount ISOs in Windows 8 as part of the operating system. There are no third party utilities required. You can also mount VHDs (Virtual Hard Disks) natively in Windows 8.

ISOs show up as a new CD or DVD drive, while VHD shows up as a new hard drive. You can access either ISOs or VHDs by either double-clicking them, right clicking them and selecting “mount,” or by selecting the “mount” from the ribbon in Windows Explorer.

Improvements such as improved boot times, new features like Windows To Go, and long overdue basics such as the ability to mount an ISO make Windows 8 a very exciting operating system.

What question about Windows is still unanswered for you?