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Windows 8.1 Deployment Guidance for Education Environments

Published: April 2, 2014

Applies To: Windows 8.1

Deploying the Windows 8.1 operating system in an educational environment can be an easy process when properly planned. Although the deployment strategies used by enterprise organizations typically apply to educational deployments, certain requirements make educational deployments unique. For example, many educational environments need to provide not only for administrative staff, but also for faculty and students, each of whom has special requirements for their computing environment. In addition, there may be specific requirements for each classroom or computer lab. Luckily, you can deploy Windows 8.1 onto PCs and other devices in multiple ways, depending on the needs of your environment.

Many IT organizations within educational institutions already support a Microsoft infrastructure. In many instances, the IT staff can use the same tools they are already familiar with to manage Windows 8.1 devices. Institutions can also outsource this work to partners who are able to leverage the partner’s Windows 8.1 management experience and skillsets.

You can manage Windows 8.1 devices and apps automatically by employing on-premises and off-premises management solutions. These solutions dramatically reduce the effort required from IT pros to keep devices current with software and security updates and to perform common IT administrative tasks. In many instances, educational institutions can create self-service portals that allow users to solve many common problems themselves (such as resetting a password, deploying an app, or installing software updates). This means that IT pros can spend fewer hours managing hardware, software, and services to provide higher-quality services with the same or less level of effort.

Windows 8.1 has a large ecosystem of providers and services, providing educators the flexibility to choose the devices and services they prefer—so they can teach the way they want. Windows 8 also helps teachers manage the classroom by limiting availability of distracting applications (such as instant messaging or social networking) during class and viewing and sharing student screens to improve classroom participation.

Most instructors and faculty members are familiar with the Windows operating system and usually have an existing device running Windows in the classroom or at home. Faculty members have a vast library of existing Windows software and peripherals to incorporate into their learning curriculum. Devices running Windows 8.1 support Windows Store apps and desktop applications, which allows educators to have the ultimate in flexibility and diversity when selecting technology resources for the classroom. If applications and peripherals worked in Windows 8 and Windows 7, they will often work just as well in Windows 8.1, decreasing both cost and deployment time.This means that instructors and faculty members will be able to realize the benefit of using Windows 8 in the classroom more quickly than other operating systems.

Learning is about consuming, collaboration, and creation. Most Windows devices have a multi-touch user interface that provides an immersive user experience for consuming and collaborating, but they also come with a full-functioning keyboard that is essential for content creation. Now there is the addition of a fluid and immersive user experience that enables tablets and touchscreens as well. With the huge interest in tablets for the student market, Windows 8.1 is able to provide a consistent user experience across form factors. In addition, students have access to the vast library of existing software created for Windows—including Windows Store apps and Windows desktop applications—and most applications that run on the Windows 8, Windows 7, or Windows XP operating system will also run on Windows 8.1.

Most students already know how to use devices running a Windows operating system. They typically have access to devices running Windows at home, as well, which allows students to continue their education at home without additional cost on the part of the educational institution or the student’s family.

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