BT rolls out toughened Windows 8 OS tablets for engineers

BT is deploying the Windows 8 operating system (OS) to 5,900 engineers in what is believed to be the largest roll-out of the Microsoft OS

BT is deploying the Windows 8 operating system (OS) to 5,900 engineers in its Openreach division in one the largest roll-outs of the most recent Microsoft OS.

Speaking at the Dubai launch event for Windows 8, Peter Scott, director of end user technology at BT (pictured), said: “We have engineers who go out on the road and need a device to get to their next job and test equipment.”

BT chose Panasonic Toughbook convertible, a rugged tablet running Windows 8.

The Panasonic Toughbook CF-C1s will be used by engineers for commissioning and testing broadband services in the field and at customer premises.

Scott said BT is running several features of Windows 8 including the virtual smartcard function, which uses the trusted computer module (TPM) on the computer to enable BT's engineers to connect securely to the corporate network. 

The company began testing Windows 8 September 2011 as proof of concept using an early build of the OS. It has now begun a roll-out of Windows 8 using the Panasonic device.

“The new devices will be faster, more reliable and more intuitive to use, meaning our engineers will be able to respond even more effectively to our customers’ needs,” Scott said.

He said a number of  BT applications will be moved to operate using the Windows 8 interface. These include legacy applications such as the TaskForce Field Client and Openreach’s work management application. 

Additionally, a suite of new custom-built apps will utilise the CF-C1 touch screen, opening up capabilities such as signature capture and the ability to store photographic evidence. Smith said one of the first new apps is the BT intranet, which engineers can now access using the new Windows touch interface.

BT runs a mix of Windows XP and Windows 7 devices. Scott said the existing Windows 7 applications migrated with few application compatibility issues to Windows 8. However, BT still runs a large estate of Windows XP applications and hardware, which will be unable to run on modern touchscreen devices like the Panasonic tablet without modification.

Scott said BT was also using Microsoft Link to enable field engineers to collaborate with managers and colleagues while on the road.

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