Is your organization ready for Windows 8.1? Part 1, Overview

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Microsoft will make it’s next version of Windows, Windows 8.1, available on October 18, 2013 as an update to Windows 8. While this may make it look simple to organizations, already running Windows 8, to adopt this new Operating System, it’s not as straightforward as it sounds…

Is your organization running Windows 8?

When client computers in your organization run Windows 8, you’re pretty much up to date with the Microsoft stack of deployment and management tools and processes. While this definitely gives your organization an edge over organizations that haven’t, some processes are about to change:

  • Windows 8.1 has new Windows logo requirements
  • Windows 8.1 will enable app auto updates by default
  • Windows 8.1 comes with new Group Policy methods for controlling the user space
  • Windows 8.1 offers new functionality when coupled with Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows 8.1 comes with Internet Explorer 11
  • Windows 8.1 supports NFC Printing
  • Windows 8.1 has new Windows logo requirements

Is your organization not running Windows 8?

When client computers in your organization run Windows 7, Windows Vista or even Windows XP, the challenge to get to Windows 8.1 are bigger than when you would already be running Windows 8. When on Windows XP you might have to completely redesign your deployment processes, change your client management principles and perhaps even purchase a handful of new programs, agents and drivers…

On the other hand, Microsoft is backpedaling on a couple of things from Windows 8 in Windows 8.1, so when you’re running Windows 7, your users might even be better off with migrating to Windows 8.1 directly, without ever seeing Windows 8 without its Start button, with its hard to customize Start Screen and its many version 1 innovations.

Now, depending on the client management philosophy in your organization, you might want to pay special attention to automatic app updates, the new Windows Defender functionality and of course possible backward compatibility challenges with Internet Explorer 11. The new Windows logo requirements might help you purchase the best hardware for your colleagues.


Buying time…

In this series I will cover the new Windows 8.1 functionalities and how they might impact your colleagues and/or your processes.

But, first things first, today, I will show you how to hold off Windows 8.1 from popping up in the Windows Store interface of your colleagues, so you have some time to configure centralized settings and test them.

This blogpost applies to Windows 8 only, since the Windows Store mechanism to offer Operating System upgrades is new to this Operating System.

Block through the registry

To block the Windows 8.1 update through registry, you only need to make one change to the registry of your Windows 8 machines.

You can achieve this registry change in several ways:

  • Through System Center Configuration Manager Compliance Settings
  • Through Group Policy Preferences
  • Through 3rd party client management solutions
  • Manually through .reg files
  • Manually in RegEdit.exe or RegEdt32.exe

You will need to create a new DWORD value with the name DisableOSUpgradeOption and value 1 in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\WindowsStore.

Block through WSUS

Alternatively, when your organization already has Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) deployed, you can simply block the Windows 8.1 upgrade from there. Prerequisites would be that your colleagues do not get unauthorized access to Windows 8.1 media and that their PCs do not look directly to Windows Update or Microsoft Update, but only to your WSUS server.



Windows 8.1 offers a lot of new features. Many of these features might benefit your organization. In this blogpost I’ve shown you how to block the Windows 8.1 update to buy some time before your colleagues get washed away by all these new features. In the next posts I’ll cover the new features and how you can manage them.

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