The Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview came out last week so I decided to check out some of the new features. Before I could even complete the setup, I ran into the same problems that got Microsoft in trouble in the first place with Windows 8. When Microsoft thinks it knows best and removes options, the users of the product suffer. Understandably, Microsoft has its own agenda to push. For example, when you try to install the Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview, it requires you to sign in with or sign up for a Microsoft account. All I really want to do is create a local account to sign in and complete the setup. After that, I might tie my Microsoft account to the PC. One question might be, is this how Windows 8.1 final will be or are they just particularly pushing the Microsoft account usage for the preview?
The screenshot below shows what you will see if you run through a normal setup of Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview. You will boot to your install media, click-through all of the options for the operating system installation, and finally it will take you to a page to setup your account. However, your only option is a Microsoft account. You can either sign in with your Microsoft account or you can click the link below to sign up for a Microsoft account.
If you hit the back arrow in the top-left and unplug your computer’s network cable before proceeding to the creating your account step, you get a different screen. Seen below is the account create screen for a Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview when the computer does not have Internet access. Voila! You can create a local account!
Summary: If you would like to create a local account for the Windows 8.1 Enterprise preview, unplug your network cable before getting to the account create screen.
Is this just for the Preview or will it make Windows 8.1 Final? Is Microsoft not getting enough Microsoft accounts tied to devices as they would like? What was wrong with the way Windows 8 handled this with just a link to alternatively create a local account?
On the topic of Windows 8.1 Enterprise, the new Enterprise features of the Windows 8.1 preview include:
- Windows To Go Creator: IT organizations can create a fully manageable corporate Windows 8.1 desktop on a bootable external USB drive. The drive can be used to support Bring Your Own Device scenarios or be given to contingent staff to access the corporate environment without compromising security.
- Start Screen Control: IT departments can now control the layout of the Start screen on company-issued devices to ensure key apps are easily accessible. IT departments can also prevent users from customizing their Start screen to ensure consistency across individual workgroups or the entire company.
- DirectAccess: Users can seamlessly access resources inside a corporate network remotely without having to launch a separate VPN. Also, IT administrators can keep remote users’ PCs up-to-date by applying the latest policies and software updates.
- BranchCache: Employees in branch offices no longer need to download content multiple times across their Wide Area Network (WAN) as BranchCache caches files, websites and other content from central servers locally on hosted cache servers or PCs.
- Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI): Users will enjoy a rich desktop experience and the ability to play 3D graphics, use USB peripherals and use touch-enabled devices across any type of network (LAN or WAN) for VDI scenarios, thanks to enhancements in Microsoft RemoteFX and Windows Server 2012.
- AppLocker: IT organizations can create a more secure environment by restricting the files and apps that users or groups can run on a PC, increasing the security of the device and the data it holds.
- Windows Enterprise Side-Loading: Internal Windows apps can be side-loaded on domain-joined PCs and tablets running Windows 8.1 Enterprise.