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Microsoft's BYOD game plan is surprisingly impartial

Behind every endpoint device is a connection to the network, and Microsoft appears to be working hard to improve that.

Microsoft has wrapped up its annual TechEd North America conference in New Orleans, which means those unfortunate enough to have gone should be finished wringing the sweat out of their clothes by now.

Among the many developments at the show was Microsoft’s clear support for the whole bring your own device (BYOD) trend. I'm actually surprised, because BYOD was born out of a rebellion against Microsoft products. Many of the people bringing their own laptops to work were bringing in Macs instead of Windows PCs, alongside their iPhones.

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No matter, Microsoft is set to introduce a slew of client and server technologies to support BYOD, both Microsoft and non-Microsoft devices.

Starting with Windows 8.1, Ms. Smith has already noted multiple new features for BYOD, such as improved native fingerprint-based biometrics, touch and swipe to authenticate Windows sign-in, remote access, and the ability to lock down specific folders. You'll also get remote wipe of business data and control over the layout of the Start menu.

A new release of the Windows Intune management platform and Server 2012 R2 will allow authenticated users to connect their devices to secure corporate resources. Intune was supposed to allow small businesses and organizations with branch offices an easy way to maintain their work computers with updates and bug fixes. Microsoft chose Intune because it figured companies will connect through the Internet and not private networks. So Intune won over VPNs.

Devices connected to the Workplace through Intune will require the user to explicitly agree to connect to a management server as an extra step, so management of devices is not automatic. That will come later this year. By the end of this year, organizations will be able to control the use of personal devices - including non-Windows mobile devices such as Apple’s iOS-based iPhone and iPads and Android devices - to access company data and applications.

Users will also be able to register their mobile devices with the workplace, which will provide them with the ability to download data and company apps written for their devices’ platforms. This will work on Windows 8.1, iOS and Android as well. When the employee leaves the company, all work-related assets are removed, but their personal apps and data remain untouched.

Much of these updates will come with future Microsoft products, like Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2.

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