COO Kevin Turner told CIOs attending the CeBIT conference in Hanover, Germany, Tuesday that the ongoing commercialization of IT is a challenge that they need to embrace.
"The shift in technology is quite profound," Turner said Tuesday. "For the first time in the history of technology, a consumer and end-user has more capabilities on their body than they have in the workplace."
CIOs need to embrace the challenges posed by consumers bringing a wide range of computing devices into the workplace, Turner advised. With the release of Windows 8 later this year, Microsoft will deliver a consistent user experience across smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops and even televisions as it helps CIOs "under a lot of pressure to continue to innovate and to do things faster," he said.
With Windows 8, CIOs will no longer have to worry about security and management issues whenever workers bring their own devices into the space.
"It has never been done before in the history of operating systems," [but] on Windows 8, you don't have to compromise," Turner said during his CeBIT keynote address. There are "no either or decisions" CIOs must make, he added.
Windows 8 To Go
Beginning later this year, enterprises will be able to leverage the capabilities of Windows 8 on the Windows 7 machines in which they have already made substantial financial investments. The key technology is called Windows To Go -- a fully managed corporate Windows 8 desktop on an external USB drive.
With Windows To Go, business users will be able to boot Windows 8 on any Windows 7 desktop PC or laptop. IT departments provisioning the new USB drive technology will retain the same security and management capabilities they already have up and running on their enterprise-commissioned machines.
The USB drive can be used at just about any location, with or without connectivity. "It's like having your secure corporate PC in your pocket," said Erwin Visser, a senior director for Windows.
To use Windows To Go, the user merely needs to plug the USB drive into any Windows 7 PC and restart the machine. "The primary hard drive goes offline and the system boots from the USB drive," Visser told CeBIT attendees.
The Bitlocker technology embedded in Windows To Go fully encrypts the drive to maintain enterprise-class security, Visser said. Moreover, Windows To Go leaves no footprint on the host device once the USB drive has been disconnected.
A $9 Billion R&D Investment
At CeBIT Visser demonstrated how the Metro-style user interface in Windows 8 can help boost enterprise worker productivity. For example, sales personnel using an ARM-based Windows 8 tablet for customer interactions will be able to dock the device in a home or business office to gain full keyboard and mouse support.
"Windows 8 will help bridge the demands that end users are placing on IT departments with what IT wants for its business -- a smooth transitional path to add tablet devices into an existing Windows client ," said IDC Vice President Al Gillen.
Visser showed how two Metro-style applications can be snapped together, so that both appear side-by-side on the computing device's screen.
"At the same time I am working on my document," Visser said, "I am keeping track of what's happening in the financial markets, for example."
Turner said Microsoft's commitment to inventing the future is being backed by hefty 2012 R&D investments.
"We're going to layer on over $9 billion in research and development this year -- $3 billion more than the next closest technology company," he said.
Turner also touted Microsoft's Systems Center 2012, which is designed to enable IT departments to manage multiple platforms -- from Microsoft as well as other vendors. The technology "empowers CIOs to meet their user expectations while [achieving] the goals of enterprise management," he said.