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Surface 2's 'Workplace Join' Adds MDM and Security Features

Microsoft's first stab at tablets with the Surface RT and Surface Pro have made little inroads in enterprises, which is hardly a surprise given this summer's $900 million write-down of the devices. The company is hoping it can do better with the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, launched Monday and due to ship next month.

One of the biggest non-starters for IT managers with the Surface RT and the Windows RT operating system that runs the tablets is IT can't join them to Active Directory domains. While the forthcoming Surface 2s don't do so either, Windows RT 8.1's new "workplace join" feature could make the new tablets more palatable to some IT pros.

As reported in June by Kurt Mackie, the use of a "workplace join" feature adds a security safeguard that ensures that only registered devices can connect to a company's data. Microsoft didn't mention that during Monday's launch event in New York, though I sat down with Surface director Cyril Belikoff right after the formal presentation, who emphasized the workplace join.

"Workplace joins are the access components of a directory service that allows a user to use their ID and password to access their corporate network documents and shares in a secure way," Belikoff said. "It's not a fully domained device but you get the administration of mobile device management and get the access component."

Within the server, IT can assign access rights to document shares and files on the network and can be managed with MDM tools from MobileIron, AirWatch and Microsoft's own Windows Intune device management service.

But he acknowledged that might not suit those organizations that mandate all devices must be jointed to an Active Directory domain. "Surface pro has all the security and management functions those IT organizations need," he said.

Is the Surface 2 and Windows 8.1 RT more appealing to you with the workplace join?

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 09/27/2013 at 12:50 PM

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