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IT Pro Questions "From the Road" on Windows 8

I have to once again thank all of you who stopped by our Windows booths at TechEd in Orlando and Amsterdam with your questions on Windows 8. For those who could not attend, I thought it would be great to take some of the top questions and recap them in no particular order.

Does Windows 8 have two separate browser engines?

No. It's one engine with two experiences. One that supports the plug-ins and one that does not. The experience was built by extending Internet Explorer's underlying architecture to provide a fast, fully hardware-accelerated browsing engine with strong security and support for HTML5 and other web standards. Internet Explorer 10 is designed to make website interaction fast and fluid for touch as well as for heavy mouse and keyboard use. With Internet Explorer 10, websites participate in the Metro-style experience in Windows 8, including the Start screen, charms, snap, and more. Internet Explorer 10 also provides the best protection from malicious software on the web while providing convenient control over your online privacy. Learn more by reading " Web browsing in Windows 8 Release Preview with IE10" and the Internet Explorer 10 Overview for IT Pros.

What about Windows To Go? Will I be able to build my own Windows To Go stick with the eval?

Yes, Windows To Go is available in the Windows 8 Enterprise Evaluation. Once installed, search for Windows To Go and you are good to go. For details on requirements and supported hardware, visit www.microsoft.com/windowstogo.

What are the differences between Windows To Go and a typical installation of Windows?

Windows To Go operates just like any other installation of Windows with a few exceptions. These exceptions are:

  • Hibernate and sleep are disabled by default. To help prevent Windows To Go from accidental data corruption during roaming, hibernate and sleep are disabled. They can be re-enabled by using Group Policy settings.
  • Internal disks are offline. To ensure data isn't accidentally disclosed, internal hard disks on the host computer are offline by default when booted into a Windows To Go. Similarly, if a Windows To Go drive is inserted into a running system, the Windows To Go drive will not be listed in Windows Explorer.
  • Trusted Platform Module (TPM) isn't used. When using BitLocker Drive Encryption, a pre-operating system boot password will be used for security rather than the TPM since the TPM is tied to a specific computer and Windows To Go drives will move between computers.
  • Windows Recovery Environment isn't available. In the rare case that you need to recover your Windows To Go drive, you should re-image it with a fresh image of Windows.
  • Push-Button reset isn't available. Resetting to the manufacturer's standard for the computer doesn't really apply when running Windows To Go, so the feature was disabled.
  • Windows To Go drives can be booted on multiple computers. During the first boot on a computer, Windows To Go will detect all hardware on the computer and install drivers. When returning to that computer, Windows To Go will identify the computer and load the correct drivers automatically. Users can do this on multiple computers with the same Windows To Go drive enabling the ability to roam between them.
  • Windows To Go drives can be booted on multiple computers. During the first boot on a computer, Windows To Go will detect all hardware on the computer and install drivers. When returning to that computer, Windows To Go will identify the computer and load the correct drivers automatically. Users can do this on multiple computers with the same Windows To Go drive enabling the ability to roam between them.

Again, more information on Windows To Go is available at www.microsoft.com/windowstogo.

What happened to Media Center?

It's not gone. Read the following Windows engineering team blog post, " Making Windows Media Center available in Windows 8" for more information.

How do I manage client access to the Windows Store, and what is sideloading?

IT administrators can control the availability and functionality of the Windows Store to client computers based on the business policies of their enterprise environment. Sideloading, which is available in both Windows 8 Release Preview and Windows Server 2012, refers to installing apps directly to a device without going through the Windows Store. Line of business (LOB) apps do not need to be certified by Microsoft and cannot be installed through the Windows Store, but they must be signed with a certificate chained to a trusted root certificate. We recommend that IT administrators use the same technical certification that is done by the Windows Store for all LOB apps.

Can I upgrade my Windows 7-based computer to Windows 8 with BitLocker enabled?

Yes. To upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 Release Preview without decrypting the operating system drive, open the BitLocker Drive Encryption Control Panel item in Windows 7, click Manage BitLocker, and then click Suspend. Suspending protection does not decrypt the drive; it disables the authentication mechanisms used by BitLocker and uses a clear key on the drive to enable access. Proceed with the upgrade process by using your Windows 8 Release Preview DVD. After the upgrade has completed, open Windows Explorer, right-click the drive, and then click Resume Protection. This reapplies the BitLocker authentication methods and deletes the clear key. Check out the BitLocker FAQ for more on this topic.

Where can I learn more about new Group Policies in Windows 8?

Right here.

What is this I am reading about virtual smart cards in Windows 8?

Virtual smart cards emulate the functionality of traditional smart cards, but use the TPM chip available on many organizations' computers rather than requiring the use of a separate physical smart card and reader. Virtual smart cards involve technical, functional, security, and cost differences with conventional smart cards. To the end user, the virtual smart card is a smart card that is always available on the computer. If a user needs to use more than one computer, a new virtual smart card must be issued to the user for each computer. Also, a computer that is shared among multiple users can host multiple virtual smart cards, one for each user. Conventional smart cards and TPM virtual smart cards offer comparable levels of security. TPM virtual smart cards can be deployed with no additional material cost, as long as employees have computers with built in TPMs. For more information, see Understanding and Evaluating Virtual Smart Cards.

Where can I get support for the Windows 8 Release Preview and Windows 8 Enterprise Evaluation?

The Windows 8 Forums on TechNet are your best bet. From installation to security and virtualization, there are tons of engineers and community experts waiting to answer your questions.

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About the Author

Stephen Rose photoStephen Rose is the Worldwide IT Pro Community Manager for the Windows Commercial team at the Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond, WA. Before joining Microsoft, Stephen spent 15 years running his own IT consulting company. In his current role, he drives the overall strategy and content for Windows for IT Pros on TechNet, oversees the Windows 7 and 8 IT Pro Forums, writes for the Windows Team Blog, and acts as moderator for Windows Virtual Roundtables.

You can follow Windows for IT Pros via Twitter or follow Stephen directly @stephenlrose.

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