Windows 8.1 ConsultingWindows 8.1 includes headline features such as touch-screen support and a new tile-based Start interface, but Microsoft's powerful client operating system also introduces less conspicuous yet significant improvements such as additional built-in security, faster boot speed, expanded connectivity, enhanced cloud support, fault-tolerant storage, better application synchronization, advanced backup/recovery, more powerful search, lower power consumption, and client virtualization. Predictably, some of these enhancements come with a cost. Incorporating Windows 8.1 into your business network may require you to reconfigure your remote access environment, modify your security scheme, update or replace various applications and utilities, and retrain users.

Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can help you evaluate the business benefits and engineering challenges associated with upgrading existing PCs to Windows 8.1 or adding new Windows 8.1-based clients to your network. Progent can help you resolve technical issues encountered during a Windows 8.1 upgrade, adjust your remote connectivity environment and network infrastructure as necessary, redesign your IT security strategy to take full advantage of the security enhancements built into Windows 8.1, recommend new desktop management procedures to simplify administration of all your Windows 8.1 clients, and provide customized webinar training sessions to bring your IT managers and end users up to speed quickly on Windows 8.1. For larger organizations, Progent's senior project managers can help set up test labs to evaluate Windows 8.1 and design and execute Windows 8.1 migration projects based on leading practices. If you already have Windows 8.1 running in a test or production environment, Progent's certified Windows 10 consultants can help you assess the business value of upgrading to Windows 10 and can help you design and carry out an efficient migration to Windows 10.

Important New Features of Windows 8.1
Windows 8.1 includes a wealth of new features that address a broad variety of customers ranging from gamers to workstation power users. Many of these features are designed primarily to improve the usefulness and manageability of Windows-based smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Professional and Enterprise versions of Windows 8.1 include important features designed to enhance the productivity of users working with mainstream business applications. These new capabilities, when used with the latest computer hardware, offer clear advantages over previous releases of Windows and should be factored into any ROI calculation. These high-value innovations include:

  • Integrated Windows Defender with the same level of protection as Microsoft Security Essentials to protect against viruses and malware
  • UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) firmware which can replace BIOS for faster startup, immediate wake-up from hibernation, protection against bootkit attacks, and support for drives larger than 2.2 terabytes
  • Client Hyper-V with the same Hyper-V virtualization technology as Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Storage Spaces for grouping drives of different types and sizes into expandable virtual storage pools that can have fault-tolerant features such as three-way mirroring
  • Windows To Go for creating copies of Windows 8.1 with your apps and files that can be booted from external USB Flash drives on different Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 computers
  • Native support for USB 3.0 devices offering 5'Gbit/s Super Speed (SS) and other enhancements over USB 2.0
  • Improved support for multiple monitors including the ability for each monitor to have a taskbar to make switching between apps and files on the desktop more efficient and to allow more windows to be open at once
  • File Explorer, which replaces Windows Explorer, with features that include customizable indexing for fast search results, additional sorting options, pinning key files, and pause/resume during file transfers
  • File History, a continuous incremental backup utility similar to Apple's Time Machine
  • Support for Near Field Communications (NFC) for proximity-based app launching and data sharing
Progent's consultants can help businesses of any size to integrate Windows 8.1 into their information networks in order to maximize the business value of these new and enhanced features.

Windows 8.1 Migration Services
Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can help you follow leading practices in deploying Windows 8.1 in a production environment. For large-scale Windows 8.1 desktop rollouts, Progent's follows a methodology that has proven effective in Windows 7 migrations. This is process is centered on automating the capture and replication of standardized images of operating systems, drivers, and core applications to be deployed in various business groups and work environments.

By using Microsoft's advanced deployment tools for Windows 8.1, Progent can help you achieve a high degree of automation during the rollout process, thereby avoiding the inevitable delays and mistakes that accompany a manual deployment. Progent can help companies with any phase of a Windows 8.1 rollout and can also provide project management services to make sure your Windows 8.1 migration is completed on time and within budget. Major phases of a Windows 8.1 rollout include:

  • Inventory your environment including 64-bit apps, ActiveX issues, and browser add-ons
  • Develop a plan for managing license activation
  • Identify and mitigate compatibility issues including applications and drivers
  • Define the tools and procedures for capturing desktop images and automatically deploying them
  • Install servers for image capture and deployment
  • Define the baseline image sets including OS, apps, group policies, and security settings
  • Define the procedures for adding extra applications and personal files
  • Create a minimal, bootable Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) to prep computers for Windows 8.1
  • Set up a pilot environment to test and validate the operation of imaging and deployment servers
  • create a pilot Windows 8.1 environment to test the functionality and performance of critical applications
  • Use automated deployment tools to install Windows 8.1 desktop images/
To control costs, save time, and minimize engineering risk for large-scale migrations, Progent can use Microsoft's deployment automation tools provided with the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK). These tools include Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM) to create custom baseline images, Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management Tool (DISM) for editing existing images, Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) for uncovering compatibility issues, User State Migration Tool (USMT) for migrating the personal data of individual users, and Volume Activation Management Toolkit (VAMT) for centralized management of Windows 8.1 activations.

Additional Consulting and Support Services for Windows 8.1
Progent can provide a variety of IT outsourcing and co-sourcing services to help organizations of any size to install, manage, and support networks that incorporate desktops, laptops, tablets, or smartphones powered by Windows 8.1. Progent's Technical Response Center can provide fast and affordable online access to a Microsoft-certified consultant to troubleshoot problems you may encounter with Windows 8.1 in areas such as application or driver compatibility, remote connectivity, or security. Progent's desktop administration experts can help you save money by automating desktop management processes such as keeping current with updates, complying with license requirements, monitoring usage, and enforcing policies. Progent's wireless mobility consultants can show you how to design and implement a secure BYOD environment that incorporates Windows 8.1 clients along with a variety of smartphones and tablets by providing services such as Apple iPhone and iPad integration with Windows 8.1, Android phone and tablet configuration and management consulting, and RIM BlackBerry expertise.

Progent's network security consultants can help you create a data protection strategy that takes advantage of the security enhancements built into Windows 8.1 and offer a range of low-cost security assessment packages to test the vulnerability of desktops, tablets, and smartphones powered by Windows. To ensure ongoing security and network integrity, Progent offers the ProSight suite of network management outsourcing services, a selection of remote monitoring and management (RMM) packages such as Progent's ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop management outsourcing services and ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure performance monitoring based on state-of-the-art RMM technology. Progent's Cisco-certified CCIE network engineers can help you accommodate the new remote connectivity technology included with Windows 8.1 and can help you design a networking and communications infrastructure that offers high levels of security as well as performance.

To enhance security, availability, performance, and recoverability for Windows 8.1 devices, Progent's Hyper-V virtualization consultants can show efficient ways to configure and use the new Client Hyper-V technology included with high-end versions of Windows 8.1.

Contact Progent to Find Out More Consulting and Support Services for Windows 8.1
To learn more about how Progent can help you with Microsoft Windows 8.1, phone 1-800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.

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