Microsoft's Surface Pro 2 tablet

Microsoft Corp. today unveiled its Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets. The new line of tablets from Redmond come with more consumer-focused enhancement but the devices also have a list new features that business users and IT administrators should check out.

Microsoft is touting the Surface Pro 2 as a laptop replacement because of its longer battery life, low-powered SSDs, storage improvements and docking station that has a Gigabit Ethernet port, several USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports and video and audio input/outputs.

The Surface Pro 2 also supports virtualized environments just like any Windows 8.1 desktop, according to Cyril Belikoff, director of Surface at Microsoft.

Here are some other enhancements:

Full Office Suite – Surface Pro 2 ships with a full Microsoft Office suite and full Outlook email client as well. Meanwhile, its more consumer-targeted sibling, Surface 2 is pre-loaded with Office Home and Student 2013 RT.

VPN – The earlier version of the Surface RT tablet only supported Microsoft’s native VPN client. The Surface 2 now supports third-party VPN clients as well.

Enhanced MDM – In the past, IT administrators controlled the RT through Window Intune, Microsoft’s cloud-based mobile device and client solution. Now the Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 come with improved mobile device management (MDM) support with help of Microsoft partners such as Mobile Iron.

Support from Mobile Iron includes remote wipe capability and other configuration and security capabilities, according to Ojas Rege, vice president of strategy for the security company.

He said bring-your-own-device (BYOD) issues and the demand of their customers to have Mobile Iron as the central console for managing “multi-OS mix of devices and apps” was the reason Mobile Iron partnered with Microsoft.

Workplace Join – The IT community had always complained that Surface RT is unable to join a Windows domain. Now Microsoft offers Workplace Join for RT. It allows these tablets to access corporate shares and other company resources through the user’s login credentials.

Workplace Join also accesses pieces of Active Directory. This gives IT administrators more control over the tablets.

The Surface pro 2 and Surface 2 do not have next-generation Wi-Fi, 802.11ac but Belikoff said increased bus speed in the tablets’ architecture results in faster browsing than previous models.

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