There are things with Windows 8 that I look forward to and things I dread. The Windows 8 App Store is somewhere in the middle with potential pain and positives waiting in the wings. The answer to this will depend on how much control the enterprise is given over the App Store through Group Policy.
Win8 things I’m looking forward to:
- More drivers included in the initial install
- Faster boot times and UEFI
- Windows To Go, BranchCache, and DirectAccess
- Microsoft Surface tablets
- Show password button at login
- Metro-style Start Menu and apps
- Interface that requires keyboard shortcuts to retain sanity
- Invisible, off-screen interface
- Frustrating interface for those with only keyboard and mouse
- Desktop and Metro versions of apps (like IE10)
- Users synchronizing work computer and home computer through Live and Xbox integrations
- New Group Policies that don’t control new features
Not to get stuck ranting about things that have been said before, the Windows 8 App Store could be a benefit or a burden for IT folks. Speculating on the full implementation of the App Store gives me the following lists:
On one hand, I don’t want to have to worry about employees buying and downloading various apps to their work computers. Assumedly the licensing would be enforced by the App Store but it’s another window for non-compliance to happen. If an employee buys an app that is needed to perform their job is it tied to the organization or the individual? If the individual leaves, would the organization have to buy another copy of the app for the position’s replacement?
The Windows App Store represents more settings to configure and policies to establish. Depending on how nuanced your organization is, that could vary from a small task to a major one.
In the constant battle of patching, is the App Store just another place to check to keep everything up to date?
If the App Store can become the go-to place for downloading applications, it could be a relief on the security front. Employees could develop the habit of always going to the App Store to download programs, reducing the number of malware-disguised applications that get installed accidentally.
If the App Store takes care of updates and keeps applications up to date like Android and iOS app stores, it would be another relief for IT Pros. Windows Updates has the WSUS server component to cache and approve updates, I wonder if something could come for the App Store to save time and bandwidth in the future.
Windows 8 includes the ability to side-load internal Metro-style apps from the App Store to domain-joined PCs and tablets running Windows 8 Enterprise through Group Policy. This would be a nice opportunity for Microsoft to ease the software deployment task.
All in all, we’re dealing with a lot of unknowns and speculating about the future based on the Consumer Preview. Microsoft TechNet has a document for IT administrators on Managing Client Access to the Windows Store that should be a definite read as the Windows 8 release nears.
Do you fear the upcoming changes or look forward to the potential new opportunities?