Small business owners may soon be getting the tools needed to add even more mobility and productivity to their operations. Microsoft, which last week announced its plan to acquire mobile phone maker Nokia for $7.2 billion, has released its Windows 8.1 update directly to PC manufacturers ahead of its mid-October availability at the consumer level.
Writing in the official Windows for Your Business Blog back in June at the time of Windows 8.1’s unveiling, Erwin Visser, General Manager of Windows Commercial Marketing at Microsoft explained:
We built Windows 8 to bring the most powerful and modern computing experience to businesses and to help 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 that will be available later this year. And our goal for Windows 8.1: offer customers the best business tablets and versatile, next generation business PCs driven by the most powerful operating system designed for modern businesses.
The release of Windows 8.1 allows PC manufacturers to adapt their new hardware devices to the operating system. You can see a brief preview of the updated Windows 8.1 available on the company website.
What Windows 8.1 Offers
Aside from the return of the iconic start button, Windows 8.1 offers some minor tweaks to the way the operating system works. See a full review of the refreshed desktop environment below.
But Microsoft insists the big news for businesses is how the Windows 8.1 environment increases both mobility and security in a world where multiple devices are a business reality.
First, the new Windows more fully integrates SkyDrive, Microsoft’s soon-to-be-renamed cloud storage service, making it easier to store files in the cloud and access them from any device.
For businesses with security concerns over mobile access to private networks, Microsoft says Windows 8.1 will also offer features like easy but secure sign in to virtual private networks like your company’s intranet site.
Better controls will also allow IT departments to limit access to company data through personal mobile devices. Microsoft says the system will allow personal devices to access and store company content but will also provide an efficient means to remove that content later without affecting personal data.
ComputerWorld.com reports that the full version of Windows 8.1 will be available at the Windows Store on Oct. 17. The update is free for customers who have devices running Windows 8 now. The operating system will be available for retail sale the next day for people running older versions of Windows.