And in business, we’re not even done with desktops yet: They’re cheaper, longer lasting and harder to lose or break than laptops. According to Spiceworks’ annual State of IT report, while EMEA businesses will spend less on desktops than laptops in 2017 (for the first time), in North America the budget for desktops is still a little higher than for laptops.
Proper password replacements
The desire to keep joining devices to the domain might reflect a lack of confidence in alternative security options. Multi-factor authentication, biometrics, document classification, information rights management and other security options that apply to people and information rather than devices still aren’t universally deployed. Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 include strong protections against pass-the-hash and pass-the-ticket attacks moving laterally through your network and that’s one reason many businesses are moving to them at speed. But we still haven’t got away from the password, for everything from web sites to cloud storage services to banking.
The FIDO 2 standards, currently in development, are being built into Windows, adopted by financial organizations like MasterCard, and supported on multiple devices. And there’s a good chance that they can replace passwords with token, biometrics and context-sensitive authentication, but it might take a while. After all, few businesses have stopped expiring passwords regularly, even though the official NIST guidance changed this year to point out that makes them less secure because if you keep making people learn new passwords they either pick less complex passwords or write them down.
Universal docking technology and USB-C
When Apple introduced a MacBook Air with only one USB-C port it looked like a bold move that would kickstart the arrival of a universal, high-speed interconnect: One cable could connect a laptop to a docking station delivering high-speed video, storage and network connections, with multiple protocols going over what looked like a standard USB cable. Instead, it seems to have brought us the year of the dongle because so many devices still plug into to the standard USB port.
As usual, it comes down to cost: USB-C ports are more expensive (and so are the cables). Plus, we still have lots of peripherals that connect to standard USB ports where a USB-C cable won’t fix the problem (like Logitech’s wireless receiver for mice and keyboards). The cost of cables and peripherals that connect to Macs has been an issue for enterprise adoption, and adding USB-C dongles to the shopping list only makes that more of an issue.
Going wireless might be a better solution: The 802.11ad standard has the bandwidth over short distances to support universal docking stations, and it should show up in notebooks in 2017. But for now, you still need to budget for a range of cables and adapters and think about what peripherals will still work with any new laptops you order.
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