July 24, 2012, 2:57 PM — Even though Windows 8 won't be officially released until October 26, its Metro user interface and Microsoft's decision to remove the Start menu have already received lots of criticism. Some observers have gone so far as to predict that Windows 8 will reduce productivity in office environments.
Nevertheless, Windows 8 has new features and improvements aplenty to consider. So here I'll introduce many that you--as a business user, owner, or IT administrator--might find useful. There's something for everyone with improvements to security, networking, virtualization, recovery, and more.
UEFI Replaces BIOS to Enhance and Secure Booting
Microsoft will require that new PCs bearing the Windows 8 logo use a new boot solution called Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), which will significantly improve the boot process and experience. It replaces the archaic Basic Input Output System (BIOS) that we've used for decades.
You'll see much faster boot times, on the order of 8 seconds from pressing the power button to being in Windows. This, along with less need for restarts, can help increase productivity in the office and save IT personnel time when applying upgrades or installing software.
Safeguards built into UEFI can also help save the IT department time and resources over the long term. Secure Boot prevents unauthorized operating systems from loading, and Early Launch Anti-Malware (ELAM) protects against boot loader attacks. UEFI will also allow remote diagnostics and repair of computers within the pre-OS environment. So instead of physically sending a technician to visit a PC experiencing boot issues, it might be possible to repair and restore the machine over the network.
Though most will enjoy the benefits of UEFI, there has been some controversy over the Secure Boot feature of UEFI that Microsoft is requiring PC makers to turn on by default. It's not totally clear yet, but Secure Boot may have to be manually disabled for those who want to install or dual boot another OS such as Linux, adding an extra step to the process.
Full Windows Experience on x86-Based Tablets