Four ways to get a head start on Windows 8

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head startWith Microsoft readying its marketing, distribution and OEM channel to put Windows 8 in the market, as a dedicated IT Professional you might want a head start on your organization, your customers and/or your family on this Operating System.

Windows 8 will be available to businesses on September 1, 2012.

For consumers, Windows 8 will launch on October 26, 2012, together with a slew of Windows RT-based devices, like Microsofts own Surface tablet.


New features

Windows 8 offers significant new features. The most noticeable change in Windows 8, by far, is the new Start screen with its Live Tiles and Store. Other parts of Windows 8 have also been adapted to this fast, fluid and beautiful interface. Under the hood, the system-wide spell check, native USB 3.0 support, Internet Explorer 10 and RemoteFX for WAN offer advantages for everyone. Hyper-V in Windows is a great bonus for IT Pros.

Together with Windows Server 2012, the changes to the Operating System couldn’t be bigger. With Access Denied Remediation, BranchCache with Data Deduplication capabilities, easy DirectAccess and Dynamic Access Control, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 offer business capabilities beyond any Windows combination we’ve seen before.


Get a head start

To get a head start on your organization, competing businesses, your customers and/or your family, you can get access to both Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 today.

1. Subscribe to TechNet or MSDN

You can download Windows 8 when you’re subscribed to TechNet or MSDN. TechNet subscription can be bought for as little as $ 349 per year. You won’t just get access to Windows 8, but all Microsoft products with product keys for non-production use. MSDN subscription can be bought as an add-on to Developer Tools, like Visual Studio.

2. Download the trial

Another way to get access to Windows 8 and Windows 8 Product Keys is to register for the Windows 8 trial. This way you can play with Windows 8 Enterprise for 90 days. (with an optional extension).The downside to this approach is you will have to reinstall the Operating System when you want to switch to a retail or volume licensing version of Windows 8.

3. Licenses with Software Assurance

Software Assurance is an option of the Microsoft Volume Licensing programs. Software Assurance consists of 31 advantages, but two of these stand out in the context of this blogpost. First of all, when an organization purchases Windows 8 Professional with Software Assurance, this organization gains the right to run Windows 8 Enterprise.

The most noted advantage of Software Assurance, however, is the ‘Next version right’. For products with current Software Assurance, organizations can use the latest version of these products. If your organization has bought Windows with Software Assurance, you already have access to Windows 8 and Windows 8 Product Keys through the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).

4. Become a Microsoft Partner

If you’re a Microsoft Partner, you can also get access to Windows 8. If your organizations employs at least two Microsoft certified professionals, can cough up three customer references and around $ 1500 per year, your organization can become a Microsoft Partner with a Silver Competency and enjoy all Microsoft software for production, testing and training purposes for free. (restrictions apply)

If your organization doesn’t qualify for a competency, then you can become a registered member of the Microsoft Partner Community and purchase the Microsoft Action Pack. The Community membership is free for organizations. The Action Pack will set your organization back $ 329 per year.

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