Microsoft will offer a type of network access control (NAC) on Windows RT devices -- that is, ARM-bases Windows 8 tablets -- as a way to protect corporate networks from harm these devices might inflict if put to corporate use. This would provide more capabilities for managing Windows RT devices from Microsoft's System Center 2012 management too, than Microsoft plans to enable for iPads and Android tablets. (Third-party mobile data management [MDM] tools bring those capabilities and more to iOS and Android.)
The newly announced capability will be able to check the devices for compliance with corporate policies surrounding passwords, encrypting data, antivirus, anti-spyware, and auto updates, according to Microsoft's Building Windows 8 blog. This is similar but less comprehensive than what some NAC schemes do to keep devices that don't comply from connecting to networks.
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BACKGROUND: Windows RT tablets will add to the BYOD nightmare
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Windows RT devices don't support applications that run on standard x86/64 machines, and until now, would accept Metro-style applications designed for Windows 8 only directly from Microsoft.
None of this made Windows RT seem any more BYOD-friendly than Android tablets or iPads. Previously, Microsoft had announced four flavors of Windows 8 -- Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise, and Windows RT -- with Windows RT lacking many of the features included in the Enterprise edition that might make the devices more palatable to businesses.
But the new client announced by Microsoft will monitor the security posture of the devices and enable downloading proprietary business applications to them. The client will communicate with an undefined cloud-based management platform that will be announced later by the team working on Microsoft's System Center.
The client's main function is to download and install Windows 8 Metro-style applications that are designed to work on both x86/64 and ARM devices. Without the agent, owners of Windows RT devices can only download applications that are stocked in the Windows Store or via Windows Update or Microsoft Update.
But Microsoft recognizes that businesses will create their own Windows 8 Metro apps that they want to deploy to personal Windows RT devices that employees might want to use for work, according to the blog.