TechEd 2013's sleeper hits: Windows Azure, Windows 8.1, and Exchange

Microsoft brought out the marquee names in 2012, but don't overlook the gems among this year's announcements

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Windows 8.1 beyond the return of the Start button
There was quite a bit of talk in the keynote about Windows 8.1 "Blue," the free update due this fall to Windows 8. Although commentators like InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard have criticized its UI updates as insufficient, there's more to "Blue" that should appeal to IT and others.

  • Connectivity: Windows 8.1 improves mobile connectivity with support for mobile broadband integrated into computers' processor module (aka SoC), native Miracast wireless display, and NFC-based pairing with enterprise printers. The demo showing the printer connection didn't quite work as planned in the keynote, but I'm sure that was just a demo glitch.
  • Security: Windows 8.1 will have improvements to fingerprint-based biometrics, multifactor authentication on tablets, and remote business-data removal to securely wipe company data from a device.
  • Management and control: Windows 8.1 will work with System Center Configuration Manager 2012 R2, as well as with third-party mobile device management (MDM) tools and Microsoft's own Windows Intune. There is also a greater level of user control through a feature called Assigned Access, similar to iOS 6's Guided Access that lets you lock a device to running a specific application in essentially kiosk mode, such as for a mobile terminal in a retail store.

So far, it's been a good week at TechEd, with many new tools, toys, tips, and tricks for the Microsoft world on display. And the week isn't over -- today I am presenting a session on Exchange 2013 Unified Messaging secrets. The fun continues!

This story, "TechEd 2013's sleeper hits: Windows Azure, Windows 8.1, and Exchange," was originally published at Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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