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Windows 8/8.1 at Stanford

All Windows 8 users should upgrade to Windows 8.1 in order to continue to receive security updates. Users and departments should ensure that they are deploying Windows 8.1 Pro or Enterprise editions as required by University policy to protect data on the system, using BitLocker for whole disk encryption.


Windows 8/8.1 is available in four versions:

  • Windows 8/8.1 (also known as Core or Home)
  • Windows 8/8.1 Professional
  • Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise
  • Windows RT

The versions are differentiated by the features they provide. Windows RT and Windows 8/8.1 are marketed to the home user, whereas Windows 8/8.1 Pro and Enterprise are marketed to the business user. Windows RT mobile devices run on the ARM processing platform and are not compatible with most existing Windows software.

Due to security concerns and incompatibility with our campus computing infrastructure, University IT will support Windows 8/8.1 Pro and Enterprise since they meet the University requirement for support of BitLocker whole disk encryption.

System requirements

The minimum computer hardware requirements for running Windows 8/8.1, as recommended by Microsoft, are:

  • 1 GHz or faster processor
  • 2 GB RAM 
  • 20 GB available disk space
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
  • Metro style applications requires a minimum screen resolution of 1024x768 and 1366x768 for the snap feature
  • TPM 1.2 or later is recommended but not required for BitLocker Encryption support for use in the Stanford Whole Disk Encryption (SWDE) service. BitLocker does require Windows 8/8.1 Pro or Enterprise versions.

There may be additional requirements to use certain features. See Microsoft's Windows 8/8.1 System Requirements page for the official list of system requirements.

Window 8/8.1 Pro and Enterprise have very similar minimum hardware requirements to Windows 7. While a Windows 7 certified computer should run Windows 8/8.1 Pro or Enterprise, we encourage you to run the Windows 8/8.1 Upgrade Assistant to confirm the computer meets the requirements. This utility analyzes your system and identifies possible compatibility problems with your hardware and software.

Note: You can do an in-place upgrade to Windows 8/8.1 Pro from all version of Windows 7 except Windows 7 Enterprise. You can do an in-place upgrade to Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise from Windows 7 Professional or Enterprise. Contact your local IT support person for assistance.

Obtaining Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 Enterprise is available for Stanford-owned computers through Stanford's campus agreement with Microsoft.  Check with your desktop support staff for more information.

Those who wish to purchase a copy for personal use only can do so at the Stanford Bookstore

Software compatibility

Essential Stanford Software (ESS)

  • Sophos: The latest version of Sophos, available through the ESS site, is compatible with Windows 8/8.1.
  • BigFix Client: The latest version of the BigFix client, available through the ESS site, is compatible with Windows 8/8.1.
  • Kerberos for Windows: Kerberos for Windows functions normally on Windows 8/8.1.
  • Stanford Desktop Tools: The current release of Stanford Desktop Tools is compatible with Windows 8/8.1.
  • SecureCRT/SecureFX: The latest version, available through ESS, is compatible with Windows 8/8.1.

Administrative Systems applications (e.g., Oracle Financials, PeopleSoft/Axess)

Windows 8/8.1 both come with Internet Explorer 10 minimum and cannot be downgraded. Please see Browser Recommendations for Administrative Applications to verify the applications you need are compatible with IE 10 before moving to Windows 8/8.1.

Other applications

  • Zimbra Web Client: Fully supported in Internet Explorer 10.
  • Zimbra Connector for Outlook: The latest version of Zimbra Connector is compatible with Windows 8/8.1.  
  • Google Apps: Access to Google Apps via Internet Explorer 10 is supported. The latest Google Drive sync client supports Windows 8/8.1.  
  • Cisco VPN Client: There is currently a bug in Cisco VPN on Windows 8.1 see below if you have trouble with it.
  • OpenAFS for Windows: OpenAFS 1.7.17 is compatible with Windows 8/8.1.  See the OpenAFS for Windows site for more information.  
  • Stanford Whole Disk Encryption (SWDE): Windows 8/8.1 is supported in SWDE through BitLocker, the native whole disk encryption feature, available in Windows 8/8.1 Pro and Enterprise. More information is available on the Stanford Whole Disk Encryption site.  
  • Microsoft Office: Microsoft Office 2007/2010/2013 are compatible with Windows 8/8.1.

Windows patch causing issues for VPN connections on Windows 8.1

University IT has received reports from our users and found matching reports from elsewhere that one of the Microsoft security patches (KB3023607) is preventing the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client from functioning properly for Windows 8.1 users. "Failed to initialize connection subsystem" is the error that is displayed.

It appears that enabling compatibility mode for a particular executable will restore functionality. The following links include steps for doing this:

If you are having difficulty using the Cisco AnyConnect VPN software, please contact your local IT support staff for assistance.


Last modified February 9, 2016