DirectAccess and the Microsoft Surface Pro

With the recent release of the Microsoft Surface Pro, many people have been asking me about DirectAccess connectivity for these devices. One of the requirements for DirectAccess connectivity is that the device be joined to a domain, a capability that the Surface RT lacked. Although the Surface Pro runs the full version of Windows 8, it is Windows 8 Professional. Sadly, DirectAccess connectivity is only supported for Windows 8 Enterprise edition clients, along with Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate editions.

Windows Server 2012 DirectAccess Client Requirements

So, if you have just purchased a new Microsoft Surface Pro and are hoping to configure it as a DirectAccess client, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. In my opinion, the lack of DirectAccess support for Windows 8 and Windows 7 Professional is a serious flaw, especially when you consider all of the great use cases you can imagine when you have a full featured tablet with always-on, secure remote network connectivity. It’s a shame, really. Let’s hope this changes in the future!

Update: Read my post on how to install Windows 8 Enterprise and configure DirectAccess on the Microsoft Surface Pro here.

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  1. Richard

    I concur but this is not a weakness of the Surface Pro. I believe (being it does use a standard CPU) you CAN deploy Windows 8 Enterprise onto it. But I do agree the platform base using DirectAccess *should* be expanded. I would love to see this ability on the Pro versions as well as Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT.

    Why? I want the ability to access Powershell Web Access, Powershell or WHATEVER tools I may even design internally from said devices. If I can do it on a BLACKBERRY (Which I can, this is a built in feature of BES) why not my Microsoft devices?

    “The Energized Tech”

    • You’re right, Sean. Technically this is not a Surface Pro limitation in and of itself; rather it is a limitation imposed by Windows 8 Pro. Yes, you should be able to load Windows 8 Enterprise on the Surface Pro, but the point is that Microsoft doesn’t make that SKU available to the end user natively, which brings up a completely different set of issues that I’ll be addressing in my next blog post. Stay tuned!

      • Richard

        they due through Windows inTune which provides both SA and the ability to directly upgrade to Windows Enterprise 🙂

  2. Jakob Heidelberg

     /  February 11, 2013

    But companies would buy Windows 8 Enterprise licenses for their Surface Pro devices, just as it’s done with every other Windows Vista/7/8 license, right? So it’s possible to get Enterprise features, just the same way as every other newly bought Windows 8 computer out there… I don’t see any problem with that 🙂

    • True, but it brings about another set of circumstances that have to be addressed. I’ll be posting something about that in the near future. 🙂

  3. Jens Jensen

     /  February 11, 2013

    Hello Richard,

    Off-topic regarding the RT support, but looks like you have the best blog about Direct Access I can find, so would like to ask a question.

    We try to setup Direct Access on a Server 2012 using the wizard. However it cannot complete the wizard when we select a computer group for the Client group policy. We raised the issue with Microsoft PSS and they end up saying it is because we have a dotted NetBIOS Domain name ( Unfortunately PSS could not provide any specific information regarding this being a known problem with Direct Access, so they left us hanging, claiming that we have to do a complete Domain Migration in order to get Direct Access working, which is a very big job. Have you ever tried setting up Direct access in an environment with a dotted NetBIOS Domain name ? and was it at all possible ?

    Jens Jensen

    • Wow, that is interesting and a scenario that I don’t believe I have ever encountered myself. I’ll have to trust Microsoft PSS here. If they say that a non-single label NetBIOS name prevents DirectAccess from working correctly, I’ll take their word for it. Not sure there’s a workaround other than they indicated, which is migrating your domain to a supported configuration. Sorry about that, but thanks for bringing that to my attention!

  4. asdf

     /  February 18, 2013

    I am running my surface pro upgraded to enterprise with directaccess just fine actually…

    • That’s fantastic! How did you upgrade your Surface Pro from Windows 8 Professional to Enterprise? Did you perform an in-place upgrade? Did you do a full wipe and reload?

  1. Installing Windows 8 Enterprise on the Microsoft Surface Pro for DirectAccess | Richard Hicks' DirectAccess Blog

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