Microsoft outs Windows 8.1 preview for enterprises

Adds enhanced VDI support and a customisable Start screen

Windows 8 1

Microsoft has released its Windows 8.1 Enterprise preview, which is now available for download with a number of additional premium features for businesses.

Among them is Windows To Go Creator, which allows IT teams to create a fully manageable corporate Windows 8.1 desktop on a bootable external USB drive.

Additionally, Windows 8.1 Enterprise now lets IT departments alter the layout of the apps arranged on the Start screen on company-issued devices, and administrators can control the level of customisation on an individual basis.

Other features include DirectAccess, which allows users to get to resources inside a corporate network without having to launch a separate VPN. It also allows admins to keep remote users' PCs up-to-date by applying policies and software updates.

Additionally, IT teams can increase security by restricting files and apps that users or groups can run on PCs using a new AppLocker feature.

VDI support

Improvements to Windows Server 2013 and Microsoft's RemoteFX have meant Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview now includes virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) enhancements such as the ability to play 3D graphics, use USB peripherals and use touch-enabled devices across a WAN or LAN.

The platform's new features are set to appear alongside a range of business capabilities in Windows 8.1 that the company shared back at TechEd North America in June.

These include Open Mobile Alliance Device Management (OMA-DM) capabilities, which allow mobile device management using third party solutions without the use of an agent. There is also Assigned Access, which lets organisations enable a single Windows Store application on a device while restricting access to other system files and applications.