Windows 8 in Education: Deployment Planning guide

This week I’m going to focus on a new set of guides for Windows 8 deployment in education. So if you’re an IT manager in a school, TAFE or University, and you’re thinking about your project plans for the approaching summer break, then you’re probably going to be rubbing your hands in anticipation of these. But if you’re a teacher then this could be possibly the dullest/geekiest week of blog posts – in which case, see you next week, and feel free to ignore all of the next few blog posts!

Windows 8 Education Deployment Guide - front cover of guideWindows 8 in Education – the Deployment Planning Guide

So here’s your starting guide – 46 pages of detailed advice for IT managers in education institutions – to help you plan your deployment of Windows 8 in education institutions. It provides advice for all three key IT environments – schools, TAFEs and Universities.

As it’s such a wide-ranging guide, it’s pretty tricky to write something that is specific to your institution, but there are key sections you shouldn’t skip – for example, the early section on the benefits for IT, faculty/teachers and students – that may help you to communicate with your users across your institution as your deployment starts.

The sections in this Windows 8 Deployment Planning Guide include:

  • The benefits of a Windows 8 deployment for IT teams, faculty & teachers, and for students
  • How to purchase Academic licences for Windows 8
    Most Australian education institutions will already have licences through their EES subscription for the Windows devices that are institution-owned, and you may only need to check on licensing for student or faculty owned devices (eg under BYOD)
  • The three methods to activate Windows 8 which allow you to choose a model that suits your scenario – for example:
    • Will all your computers be domain-joined?
    • Will you need to allow for users to be disconnected from your network for over half a year (eg researchers/students/faculty who spend a year in another country)?
    • Will you have a mix of Windows 8 and Windows 7 devices
  • What considerations are there for your network infrastructure? For example you may need to make changes so that users can access the Windows Store, and advice on specific considerations for wireless networks in education.
  • Information on accessibility, to support users with vision, hearing, dexterity, language or learning needs.
  • Advice on printer management on Windows 8 is pretty critical, as you are likely to have tens or hundreds of legacy printers, and the guide provides advice on connection, drivers and security for printing.
    I visited a school that had more printers than staff, so I know that this section will be critical to everybody, and the links in this section to deploying printers using group policy and the general overview of printing in Windows 8, are key.
  • The changes in Windows 8 to enhance security and privacy provides a handy table of features, and also outlines which is in which version of Windows 8 (Tip: if you have an EES agreement, you’re licensed for Windows 8 Enterprise edition). This section also gives an overview of how to limit application access (Tip: switching off the Windows Store is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut). It also shows which security features can help you to manage:
    • Make signing in easier for users
    • Reduce information loss if a device is lost or stolen
    • Reduce the cost of replacement when a device is lost or stolen
  • Types of user account, and why you might choose different types (especially with BYOD scenarios)
  • The differential IT management considerations when you choose between institution-owned, BYOD, VDI and Windows To Go scenarios
  • How to use manage users using different multiple devices – including a comprehensive table of what kind of IT control you have in each of the key scenarios (Tip: This table is a handy way to compare Windows Roaming User Profiles to other options available today)
  • Configuration and management technology choices for Windows 8
    Historically, many education users have chosen Group Policy as the default route to manage Windows devices, but with the increasingly mix of different device types and Windows versions, it’s now a good time to compare the capabilities of managing devices through Group Policy, PowerShell, SystemCenter and Windows Intune.

The aim of this guide isn’t to contain all the answers for every scenario, but to give you an overview, and to offer sources of more detailed information from Microsoft sites like MSDN and TechNet. It’s the first call for you if you are planning a Windows 8 deployment in education within the next 12 months.

Next up tomorrow, is the guide to deployment of Windows Store Apps, and your options for managing what your users do.

Learn MoreDownload the full Windows 8 Deployment Planning: A Guide for Education