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Windows 10 for Business Tablets: Enterprise, IoT and Embedded

Early reception of Windows 10 is positive and predicted by many commentators to be a sweeping success. Whether it is tactical of Microsoft to make abominable alternate OS releases to have us more keen on the next version (think Vista/Win8) or not, something that is certainly true is that Microsoft adore renaming so that OS editions and features are tricky to comprehend.

This article is not intended to cover the full gamut of Windows 10 editions but what we will cover is the specific edition that we are supplying and how it differs significantly enough from the mainstream consumer OS to take notice.

Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSB

We were not joking when we said Microsoft must adore colourful and superfluous naming conventions! First we must dissect the name:

  • Windows 10: The latest and perhaps last major OS from Microsoft, released July 29th 2015.
  • IoT: This is Microsoft borrowing a buzzword “Internet of Things”. It has only a loose association with IoT. Here it means “Embedded” which is the Microsoft licensing channel for devices with a dedicated function. The easiest way to explain Embedded is what it is not. Embedded is not a “personal computer”. Embedded can be used by anyone, multiple people and indeed the general public, uses that are technically prohibited with ordinary Microsoft “OEM” licensing. That’s essentially what the Embedded channel is all about. For Windows 8 Microsoft renamed Embedded to = “Industry”. Now “Industry” = “IoT”.
  • Enterprise: Embedded has always had many flavours and Windows 10 is no different. Traditionally there has been “Compact Embedded” which has now become “Core”; “Embedded Standard” which is a componentised version of the full Windows OS; and “Professional for Embedded Systems” which is identical to the equivalent Professional Windows OS except for the license type. With Windows 8.1 (but not 8.0) Microsoft retired the componentised Embedded Standard and that follows suit with Windows 10. Thus “Enterprise” is equivalent to “Standard” although in reality it is more akin to Pro Embedded because it is not componentised, but has features available in “Standard” thrown in (more on those features in a bit).
  • LTSB: This stands for Long Term Service Branch which is relevant in the context that Windows 10 may be the last version of Windows we see for a while. Microsoft intend on updating Windows 10 in two ways; patches and features. Features may shift the OS over time in much the same way as a whole new version shifts the OS forward. That change is usually a hazard to businesses who favour stability and continuity. What LTSB promises is no feature updates, only security updates and patches. As a consequence you don’t get a Microsoft Store with the accompanying multitude of pre-installed apps, nor do you get the Edge browser or features like Cortana; Hallelujah!

Advantages of Windows 10 IoT Enteprise LTSB

Some of the advantages to Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSB (hereafter Win 10 Enterprise) will already be clear, notably the excising of the Microsoft Store and Metro apps. The world has moved to an enterprise-unfavourable rapid development model with silent upgrades. As of writing we are at Firefox version 43 and Chrome version 49. Even Microsoft’s Edge browser has charged through numerous updates in it’s so far brief life and for that reason it won’t be found in LTSB; you do of course get Internet Explorer 11 out of the box. Please note that metro apps can still be sideloaded and this is much easier on Windows 10 than it was on Windows 8. Therefore if you find that your company develops a Modern Store app it can still be installed and run.

Another advantage with Microsoft licensing from the Embedded channel is that support is granted for far longer than with regular licensing, typically by 5 years longer. That takes Windows 10 Enterprise through to 2025.

Embedded Standard features

The features I alluded to earlier are as follows. I won’t detail them further as it will be easy to search online the purpose and function of each. These features can be enabled with Win 10 Enterprise:

  • Write Filters (EWF/FBWF/UWF)
  • USB-Filter
  • Keyboard Filter
  • Gesture Filter
  • App Locker and Layout Control
  • Dialog Box and Notification Filter
  • Shell Launcher / App Launcher

Summary

Win 10 Enterprise is a logical choice for business tablets not least because the licensing specifics may mean consumer/OEM licensing would be invalid. Moreover, Win1 0 Enterprise removes some potential grievances of Microsoft’s new OS strategy while adding in features that were previously only available to a niche of administrators willing to build a componentised OS.

Additionally, what Microsoft are doing with their IoT-enabled product portfolio is adding the capability to easily develop for a diverse range of products and form-factors. Windows 10 not only consolidates all development and deployment into one environment, (Visual Studio), but thanks to its connection to Microsoft Azure it can also deliver secure, Cloud-based data analytics, business intelligence, and other software-based services.

Microsoft won’t want the world to hold on to Windows 7 for as long or as tightly as they did Windows XP and we are already seeing significant interest in Windows 10 (don’t worry, we still support Windows 7 on many devices along with 8.1 and 10 as options). A factor that may help to propel Windows 10 is a convergence of hardware and software whereby support for new software features in the latest hardware will also make Windows 7 incompatible.

Overall we feel there is much to enjoy in Microsoft’s latest OS and with cheaper SKUs for tablets businesses can also benefit from a lower unit cost. On our current range of Windows tablets we are seeing significantly quicker boot times and very quick performance notably even on low end hardware.

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