Why Windows is Expanding My Thinking on BYOD

Windows 7 made the solid foundation for building Windows 8. Now, Windows will expand your thinking about how to do Bring Your Own Device.

Windows 8 Start Screen

I have written about BYOD before.  I continue to argue two principle points:

  1. It is not the device that is mobile. It is you–the student, the educator, the administrator, the person.
  2. In the near future, the ability to bring your own data will trump the device du jour circus.

I have yet to find a persuasive argument that runs counter to these two points. Though, they are open to constructive debate.

Coming soon to Microsoft Virtualization and Windows 8 are two technologies that caused me to ask: “Why are we still talking about devices at all?”

There is a really good reason that devices are still in the digital learning conversation, but I will get to that in a moment.

User Experience Virtualization (UE-V)
First, I have to say that UE-V is a really cool product name. It makes me think of Total Recall.  In a way, that is not far from the truth.

Microsoft User Experience Virtualization (or UE-V) is a user state virtualization product that keeps users’ experience with them. It allows them choice to change their device and still keep their experience so that they do not have to reconfigure applications each time they login to a Windows 7 or Windows 8-based device. Regardless if it is a rich desktop or a VDI session, UE-V enables a consistent, personal Windows experience that matches their unique work style. You can read more at the Windows for Your Business Blog.

For schools that continue to provide Active Directory Domain credentials to students, especially in K12 schools, this prompts some great conversation on the student and educator experience. Regardless of whether the student’s or educator’s computing device is a mobile tablet, slate, Ultrabook, or lab PC; his or her’s own unique Windows desktop experience is as mobile as they are.  Their apps and Windows configurations will travel with them.  They can login to any Windows 7 or Windows 8-based device and it always looks like their own.

Last week, I shared this scenario with a group of education leaders in south Florida.  Imagine a household that has two school age children–a forgetful junior, Jessica and a studious seventh-grader, Anthony.  After cheerleading practice, Jessica left her mobile tablet in her girlfriend’s car and will not be able to get it until morning. Meanwhile, Jessica has homework that needs to get done tonight.  She asks her eleven-year brother (he skipped a grade) if she could borrow his tablet after he is done with his homework.  Anthony feels pity for Jessica and loans her his tablet.  When Jessica logins, all of her apps, including the apps she uses at high school that her brother does not use load for her.  Jessica gets her work done and logs out.  When Anthony logs back in to his tablet, he only see his apps and not Jessica’s apps or user experience.

The scenario is meaningful because of two things: Firstly, kids do forget things and leave them in places they should not. Secondly and lastly, this is a scenario that is only possible with Windows 7 and Windows 8-based devices. Other consumer tablets do not allow for this scenario.

In fact, the most common Terms and Conditions and privacy policies for consumer tablets only allow for changing the registered device user once every 90-days.  In that scenario, Anthony could not use his tablet for 90-days after Jessica made it her own.   For perspective, school is only in session 180-days.  That means you may be able to be forgetful once in a school year with non-Windows devices.

You are reading this and you are thinking, that is something to seriously think about.  The user experience should follow the “user”, not the device. If you build an experience that works better for people than machines, you are more likely to get people to love using the machines that enable those experiences.

If this has you needing more information, then the first half of my mission is accomplished.  Go to the UE-V site, www.microsoft.com/getuev and sign-up for the Public Beta.  You can start evaluating this new technology in your school or university today.

Windows to Go
When I first saw Windows 8 Consumer Preview of Windows To Go, I thought are you kidding me? If I were writing a dictionary entry of BYOD for Oxford English Dictionary, I would append it to include Bring Your Own USB Drive with Windows 8.  This is one of those must-see features to believe.  Windows To Go is a full-version of Windows 8 running on a USB Drive using the hardware of any x86 machine for compute, memory, and display.

Take the previous Jessica and Anthony scenario.  That works really great when Jessica and Anthony are on the same district network.  However, let us change the scenario to now, Jessica is staying at her aunt’s house for the evening to visit with her cousin Christine.  Jessica takes her Windows To Go USB Drive with Windows 8 and plugs it into her aunt’s corporate-managed, Windows XP notebook PC.  Jessica boots directly to her personal Windows 8 user experience without ever loading her aunt’s veneral desktop operating system.  She logs into the school network and gets all of her homework done and stores the documents on either her Windows To Go USB, SkyDrive, or Office 365 account.  No policy or data changes happen to her aunt’s notebook PC.

The Windows To Go feature of Windows 8 expands the landscape of compute devices available and expands the mobile computing options for education institutions. You can learn more about the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and the Windows To Go feature here.

Do Devices Still Matter?
In both of the aforementioned scenarios, I wanted to highlight something that can be easily overlooked.  The economics of BYOD are different at all schools and households. The User Experience Virtualization allows more flexibility when you have a single device in a home or fewer devices than children.  A personalized experience is still achievable without the inflexibility of consumer electronics device privacy policies or the cost of procurement and maintenance of a device per student.  With Windows To Go, students carry their entire Windows-based academic world on a USB key fob.  They can securely boot Windows almost anywhere they can find a current x86 PC with an available USB port. USB Drives are radically less expensive than mobile PCs.  When we reduce the load of student backpacks, you cannot get much lighter than a USB Drive or UE-V.

So, yes, devices do matter.  They just do not matter in the context of one device to rule them all.  Devices are endpoints that enhance the user experience based on the capabilities of the hardware and its ability to use great software and services to full advantage.  In learning environments, there will always be a need for different devices with different configurations for learning goals and objectives. Students and educators need the ability for their experience to be as mobile as they are across a world of connected devices and services.

With Windows 7, we began the advocacy of a life without walls.  As long as your current and future devices are running Windows, you will not have to worry about artificial walls limiting your choice or options.

Let me know if this gave you some new thinking regarding BYOD or not in the comments below.

Links to visit
Windows for Your Business Blog has great insights on Windows for enterprise customers.



3 Responses to "Why Windows is Expanding My Thinking on BYOD"
  1. Cameron, thank you for sharing the information @ UE-V! To fully support BYOD, do you know if it will support multiple non-Windows devices and OS’s? E.g. Will there be a player of some sort that can be used from Apple iOS and Android? Love the concept.

    • Thanks for the question Sean, the best source of information will be the Connect beta site for UE-V. You’ll find the Administrator’s guide there that highlights infrastructure planning consideration. For the scenarios you identified, you’ll need additional VDI support to enable.

      • thank you for posting this information to students Cameron.now i know that you dealed with ethical and legal issues on BYOD,so in terms of reasearch or sources where can i find more information about ethical and legal issues pn BYOD