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Windows RT 8.1 in the Enterprise

Choosing the Best Tablet Device

Windows-based tablet devices are available from a variety of manufacturers, offering a variety of capabilities. Deciding which device is best for a particular scenario requires considering the key capabilities:

  • Mobility. People who carry their devices, whether for travel to different cities or for routine meetings in their office building, appreciate tablets that are lightweight and have long battery life, which allows them to operate from wherever they are at that moment.
  • Workload. Some people are casual users, primarily reading e-mail, browsing the web, and running a variety of other apps that do not require much computing power. Others may be manipulating large spreadsheets, analyzing datasets, developing line-of-business software, or performing other more intensive operations.
  • Apps. For some employees, new immersive Windows 8 line-of-business apps and Windows Store apps will allow them to perform the majority of their work, while others may require access to existing line-of-business desktop apps. These desktop apps can be run either natively on Windows 8 tablets or accessed remotely using the RemoteApp technology, as long as appropriate connectivity is available.
  • Corporate Access. Some people may need access to the corporate network for their jobs, typically for using line-of-business apps. This can be accomplished using DirectAccess or a VPN connection when away from the office but on the Internet. Others need occasional online access, but frequently work offline and synchronize their files with the cloud or other remote computers.
  • InstantGo. Other users may need the constant connectivity provided by InstantGo (formerly called “Connected Standby”), which allows apps to continue receiving information from networks even while the device is turned off. These apps can even notify people by playing notification sounds in cases of important events.
  • Manageability. Organizations may need to configure the settings and applications on the devices used by employees.

Depending on which of these capabilities are most important, enterprises might choose devices running Windows 8.1 Enterprise or Windows 8.1 Pro, or they might choose devices running Windows RT 8.1. (See the Which tablet should you choose for your business? blog post for additional information.)

Devices that run Windows RT 8.1 excel at mobility, and are instantly on and always connected. They can also run newly-developed Windows Store (modern) apps.  But there are some important enterprise capabilities from Windows 8.1 Enterprise and Windows 8.1 Pro that are not present in Windows RT 8.1, including the ability to run additional desktop apps or services, join Active Directory domains, sign on using Active Directory accounts, or manage via Active Directory Group Policy.

The remainder of this document describes the specific capabilities and considerations of Windows RT 8.1 from the enterprise perspective. Understanding these capabilities and trade-offs is key to making an informed decision as to what types of devices are right for your organization.