Top 10 end-user computing stories of 2020

In 2020, IT departments have demonstrated how quickly they can adapt to provide essential end-user computing services to enable employees to work from home during the coronavirus lockdown.

The policy to deploy laptops for “road warriors” changed to laptops for everyone. Using corporate IT security as a reason not to enable staff to connect their own devices to the corporate network has been relaxed as the surge in demand for new corporate laptops led to supply shortages.

At a high level, people were able to work if they had access to the applications they used regularly. Some, such as office productivity tools, could be delivered as software as a service; others required end-users to dial into the corporate network.

This showed up the limits of virtual private networks (VPNs). Businesses that had only purchased enough VPN capacity and licences to cope with a relatively small number of remote workers in the workforce now needed to provide access for every worker. Rather than expand VPN capacity, there is now renewed interest in using software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs), which enable network managers to treat people’s homes as an extension of the branch office.

No review of 2020 is now complete without a look at the explosion in video conferencing. Zoom is now a household name, as companies have used such tools to keep in touch with staff. No one could have predicted the accelerated uptake of video conferencing and unified communications. These are not new technologies, but they demonstrated their value when people were unable to go into the office. 

From an end-user computing perspective, IT departments and tech-savvy employees were able to use the software and tools they had at their disposal to continue working despite the huge challenges posed by the coronavirus. Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 end-user computing stories of 2020.

1. Microsoft Windows’ future is all about users

We look at how Microsoft is evolving the Windows desktop operating system platform and providing developer flexibility. 

2. Supporting mobile workers everywhere

With VPNs struggling to serve the unprecedented number of remote workers, we look at other ways of providing reliable remote networking.

3. Unified communications: The key to prospering in the new working reality of Covid-19

Covid-19 lockdowns are causing a collective rethink in the way companies operate, with unified communications transformed from a nice-to-have to a business essential as remote working becomes the new normal. 

4. Office productivity in a post-coronavirus world

One of the changes that has come out of the coronavirus pandemic is that people are learning to work from home. This is more than IT providing remote and cloud-based access. 

5.  Designing software to include older people in the digital world

The Covid-19 crisis has accentuated the importance of including older people in the digital world. How can software firms design products to include generations that came to maturity before the internet? 

6. Coronavirus: How to implement safe and secure remote working

Find out what CIOs and CISOs need to know to enable their end-users to work remotely and stay secure during the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis, and learn how users can help themselves. 

7. Virtuous circles: Skilling up for an ethical web

Tim Berners-Lee’s Contract for the Web aims to drive the internet in a more ethical, open and human-centred direction. What does this mean for the future of IT skills and governance?

8. Home workers need quality of service

There is no double that business leaders will factor in working from home in the calculations they are doing to lower costs as part of their ongoing post-pandemic recovery plans. 

9. Covid-19 to prompt surge in public cloud spend on DaaS, says Gartner

Shift to remote working has prompted CIOs to up their spending on cloud-based desktop offerings, with desktop as a service on course to become the fastest-growing part of the wider public cloud market this year. 

10. Set up Windows Remote Desktop on a Mac device

Organisations that need to enable remote workers on Mac devices should consider allowing them to remotely access Windows desktops with the Windows Remote Desktop application.