This content is part of the Conference Coverage: Microsoft Ignite 2016 conference coverage

Windows 10 piques IT interest in 2-in-1 devices

Organizations that want to offer employees portability and PC functionality are turning toward 2-in-1 devices. Microsoft Surface devices are at the top of the heap.

ATLANTA -- Two-in-one devices offer benefits for IT and users around manageability and productivity, leading organizations to consider these PC-tablet hybrids for business.

IT administrators praise 2-in-1 devices for their ability to integrate with their existing Windows management strategies. End users like them for improving productivity while on the go. The devices offer the portability of a tablet, but with the larger screen, keyboard and apps of a PC. Attendees here at Microsoft's annual Ignite conference expressed interest in adopting 2-in-1s, particularly Microsoft Surface devices.

"It changes the way enterprises look at mobility," said Jack Narcotta, analyst at Technology Business Research Inc., in Hampton, N.H. "These devices show how users can be productive and not choose ... what form factor they have to work on."

With more businesses moving to or considering Windows 10, adopting Windows 10 2-in-1s can give IT consistency when managing both tablets and PCs, Narcotta said. They can manage those 2-in-1s the same way they would manage any Windows 10 PCs in the organization. Or, even better, rather than managing a user's Windows 10 laptop and their iPad, for example, admins can allow users to ditch their PCs altogether and just manage one Windows 10 2-in-1 device.

"IT loves that," Narcotta said. "Because it's on Windows 10, IT uses the same management tools, security tools [and] network-access tools. It's more consistent, and that's what IT strives for."

Businesses eye Microsoft Surface devices

It changes the way enterprises look at mobility.
Jack Narcottaanalyst, Technology Business Research

Microsoft's Surface and Surface Pro devices are some of the most popular 2-in-1s on the market. The Surface line of devices includes smaller, less expensive versions of the Surface Pro, which offers a higher-end processor and more memory.

Organizations may choose Surface devices because they are the most tablet-like 2-in-1s, compared with options from other vendors, such as HP Inc., Dell and Lenovo, Narcotta said.

"The other guys ... have more solid-state keyboards that are better for a PC experience," he said. "The Surface is more receptive and dynamic to taking commands via touchscreen, and [it's] more receptive and detailed with the stylus."

Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co., in Fort Wayne, Ind., has deployed 12 Surface Pro devices and plans to expand to around 40 in the future. Employees who go in and out of meeting rooms can appreciate the dual functionality, said Adam Guntle, a technology support specialist at the company. Some employees like to take notes with pen and paper, and Surface Pro devices allow them to have a similar experience with the Surface Pen stylus, he added.

"Surface devices fill a gap for a mobile worker," Guntle said. "Road warriors aren't reduced to a laptop with the extra weight and lack of mobility, and there is no loss of functionality like when using an iPad."

Windows 10 security features such as Windows Hello on the Surface Pro 4 are especially important, Guntle said. That authentication feature allows users to sign onto devices with facial-recognition software, fingerprint scanning or iris scanning.

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