30 Apr.

Windows RT In The CIE (Sung To The Tune Of R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.)

The Customer Immersion Experience (CIE) is an important part of Microsoft’s strategy to get customers to see how their latest technologies work together, from a scenario driven approach rather than just focusing on the features and benefits of individual products. One of the challenges that Microsoft faces is that most people haven’t seen how well integrated these solutions are, and the CIE helps to address this.

While there is no official support for Windows RT devices in the CIE at this point in time, there are a few things that can be shown to help drive the Windows devices story, these are the latest Mail and Lync apps, as well as both of the included versions of Internet Explorer. There are a few things that need to be taken into account before including Windows RT, and I’ll highlight these below.

Before I go any further, I need to mention that Windows RT devices shouldn’t be used by a CIE attendee as their primary device, instead it can be passed around with a different user account to the personas on the Windows 8 devices. You can also hook them up to the projector to show a mobility scenario, while the attendees can follow what you are doing. The reason why you shouldn’t use a Windows RT device is the same reason why someone using a MacBook, for example, would be a problem. You will have users with different sets of capabilities on their devices, which will impact the experience that all in the room will have.

First of all, because the CIE uses a self signed certificate, you will need to import the certificate into the Windows RT device. While many might not like that Windows RT has a traditional desktop that can be easily accessed, the ability to go into the certificates snap-in in the MMC to import the certificate into the appropriate store makes life easier for those with Windows skills.

I’ve previously had someone mention that they prefer the way iOS devices handle self-signed certificates – they don’t give any warnings about security implications at all, those of us in the real world, where risks need to be minimised, I’ll take stronger security any day of the week. In a production environment the use of self-signed certificates should be limited, so I don’t really see this as a major pain to deal with on a day to day basis.

If you try to connect to the Exchange Server inside of the CIE environment from within the Mail app, it will alert you to the need for the certificate to be imported. While it may not exactly be a user friendly message that it presents, it at least presents enough information to get you started.

Once the certificate is imported, the Mail app will connect to Exchange, but you will need to make sure that you tell the mail app to bring in more than two weeks of mail to get it to show all of the messages. Not a hard thing to do from the Settings Charm, but an easy thing to overlook. You will need to use the Mail app as there is no native Outlook client available on Windows RT at the time of writing, despite there being ongoing rumours about it’s coming availability, something Microsoft has not confirmed.

If you haven’t already installed the Lync app from the Store, sign in using a Microsoft account. Like Outlook, there is no Lync desktop application for Windows RT, so you need to use the Lync app. The Windows Store apps aren’t normally installed and configured on the Windows 8 devices, so this gives the opportunity for people to see both the Mail and Lync apps running.

You also need to be aware of the Office 2013 applications that are preinstalled are not the same bits that are installed on the Windows 8 devices, so you won’t be able to utilise capabilities such as the DRM or Excel PowerView scenarios.

You can, however, show a great deal of Office Web Apps, Excel Web Services, and Dynamics CRM, for example, through either of the Internet Explorer versions that are included. Be careful of going to any SharePoint sites that still have a dependency on Silverlight, as Windows RT doesn’t include support for it, even though it does include Adobe Flash support.

That’s just a quick overview of some of the things you can do with Windows RT in a CIE environment, and how to configure it, but if you want more details on how to configure everything in a step by step I’ll happily oblige.

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