Windows RT for Enterprise

Windows RT on Surface

Surface RT (soon to be just Surface) is a wonderful although not very powerful device, it runs Windows RT on an ARM chip and is a seriously locked down operating system. Out of the box, Windows RT comes with a very limited set of applications and new ones can only be downloaded and installed via the Microsoft app store. While this is an easy and secure method of obtaining applications (they are all certified by Microsoft), you cannot build and deploy your own applications to it without going through the app store first.

The Enterprise

Surface RT would be perfect for the enterprise because of its long battery life and its locked down status. It is impossible to get a virus or malware onto it as any installation is automatically blocked by the OS. But this can pose a serious problem for enterprise and one in which Microsoft has not yet fully addressed. If you want to create a LOB (Line Of Business) application for your workforce to use on a Surface device, you are pretty much done for. Well not exactly. By using Microsoft Insight you can license a user to access apps published through your companies SharePoint portal. In this post I will briefly go over what that entails. In a second post I will describe a hybrid approach which will allow you to publish to the app store, but your companies devices will only see your data.

Sideloading

To get applications onto a Windows RT device, you need to go through a process called sideloading. There are two ways to sideload an app onto a Windows RT device

Deploying using a Sideloading Product Key

To enable apps to be installed on your Windows RT device, run regedit and navigate to this path and make the value set to 1 like this:-Then you need to open a command promt and run this:-Where the sideloading product key is the 25 digit key obtained from the Microsoft Volume Licensing department. I won't go into Volume Licensing here, but you can buy 100 licenses for approx $3000. Activate the sideloading key using this:-Add your app package and include any dependencies such as WinJS for an HTML/CSS app.

Deployment using System Center Configuration Manager and Windows Intune

To get your business app onto Windows RT devices you need to jump through a few hoops.
  1. You need System Center Configuration Manager 2012 installed within your domain
  2. A Windows Intune subscription
  3. Windows RT Side loading keys
The full process can be seen here in this video from Microsoft

The full Microsoft article can be found here:- http://bit.ly/XKFYJz

Small Enterprise

If you are a large enterprise you may already have SCCM and Intune, but what if you are a small enterprise that doesn't have a large server infrastructure. You could always stump up the $3000 for 100 licenses, but lets be realistic; this early in the whole Windows 8 ecosystem you would need to convince the finance manager that it is an investment for the long haul.
Happy coding
References:- Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/system-center/default.aspx Windows Intune http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windowsintune/pc-management.aspx