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Windows® 8.1 Enterprise is now available without Software Assurance

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It seems as though we have heard more news about Windows® than usual recently. Much of this has been the result of the end of support for XP, but Microsoft® recently made another important change to their Windows® lineup. While certainly not as newsworthy as the end of XP, the addition of a standalone SKU for Windows® 8 Enterprise is significant to many businesses.

 

Windows® 8 Enterprise may be compared to Windows® 7 Ultimate as it has all of the features and functionality Windows® 8 has to offer, just as Ultimate is the top tier for Windows® 7. The Enterprise version of Windows® 8.1 is a step-up from Windows® 8 Professional as it offers even greater network management, customizable security, and support for mobility (BYOD). Until now, Windows® 8 Professional was the most robust edition available without Software Assurance (SA), but on March 1, 2014 Microsoft® began offering the Enterprise edition to their Open, Select, and Select Plus customers as a standalone product that does not require accompanying SA.

 

The standalone SKU may be appealing to some small and mid-sized businesses that don’t want to commit to Software Assurance or are prohibited from entering into annuity agreements by internal policy, but it’s important to take a closer look at anticipated usage before making a decision between the standalone SKU and that which requires SA. For example, customers who purchase the standalone SKU wishing to use the Microsoft® Desktop Optimization Pack (which includes App-V) will be unable to do so because MDOP requires Software Assurance.

 

Another consideration before purchasing the standalone upgrade is the price. List price for the standalone is $295, which is virtually identical to the $296 list price for the SKU including SA. The SA SKU requires ongoing payments for SA of approximately $109 annually (included in the $296), but if the added benefits of Software Assurance become a factor then the standalone SKU may not be appropriate.

 

Perhaps the most compelling reason to purchase the standalone SKU if a company doesn’t need the benefits of Software Assurance is to leverage the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) functionality. With VDI and either Windows Server® 2012 R2 or MultiPoint® Server 2012, IT departments can effectively and securely manage their environment while users remotely run Windows® 8.1 applications as though they were doing so on their local device (BYOD).

 

The following table summarizes the differences between Windows® 8 Professional and Enterprise editions:

 

Windows® 8 Professional

Windows® 8 Enterprise

BitLocker® and BitLocker To Go®

X

X

Boot from VHD

X

X

Client Hyper-V®

X

X

Domain Join

X

X

Encrypting File System

X

X

Group Policy

X

X

Remote Desktop Hosting

X

X

DirectAccess

X

BranchCache®

X

AppLocker®

X

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

X

Windows® to Go

X

 

The opportunity to purchase Windows® 8.1 Enterprise without SA is a welcome change to many. Microsoft® typically adds certain benefits or tools which are only available to SA customers, but many companies are reluctant to pay for the promise that they will receive version updates that they may not want or that may not even happen. Some have argued that this latest SKU is little more than a means to get more users to run Windows® 8, but since the standalone SKU includes full downgrade rights, that argument is somewhat weak. The standalone SKU certainly isn’t appropriate for every company but for some, it’s nice to be able to purchase an Enterprise OS without having to pay for Software Assurance.

2016-11-16T11:41:59+00:00 Nov 2016|