With many companies choosing to stick with Windows XP rather than upgrade to Vista, Microsoft must ensure that its latest release does not suffer the same problems that dogged its forerunner, such as poor compatibility with peripherals and it being disk and memory hungry. The latest release has so far been well received, and Microsoft is hopeful that it will see enterprises pencil in upgrade paths as well as good sales during the holiday season.
As it did with Vista, Microsoft is once again pushing the security features with Windows 7, but also claiming that those companies that do adopt the operating system will see their total cost of ownership drop between $111 and $190 per seat. This is because of faster deployment, better power management controls and simpler management, plus, with Microsoft claims that this is a more reliable OS, there is reduced need for helpdesk support.
‘Customers are telling us that they are seeing value in improved security and improved management,’ said Rich Reynolds, General Manager Windows Commercial at Microsoft.
Equally, with many businesses now focusing on fast return on investment and IT budgets smaller due to the economic downturn, the push on savings is a smart, if obvious, move.
Early adopters have seen savings on PC management costs of around 20%, said Reynolds. The software developer cites Forrester research that found that 57% of companies it surveyed have said they plan to upgrade to Windows 7 in the coming 12 to 18 months. But Forrester also highlights just how poorly received Vista was in the corporate market, stating that out of 85,000 corporate clients it looked at, just 12% were running Vista.
But Microsoft knew early on it was going to struggle with Vista when some close partners in the IT world refused to upgrade from their XP implementations. With so many enterprises choosing to stick with the now aging Windows XP, Forrester has recommends in a separate report that companies begin planning their upgrade path now.
‘Windows 7 is shaping up to be a suitable replacement for organisations that couldn’t justify an upgrade to Windows Vista, and it even has some firms that took the Vista plunge rethinking their upgrade strategy. One of the first steps IT managers should take is to determine their firm’s Windows 7 licensing strategy and how it fits into their broader Microsoft relationship,’ the analysts recommend.
Reynolds says that Microsoft worked closely with hardware and application developers during the development of Windows 7, something that several industry heavyweights have mentioned themselves. Additionally, it had over eight million customers use the beta and release candidate, from which Microsoft also got feedback.
‘There was absolutely a perception problem with Windows Vista,’ admits Reynolds. ‘Through the development process of Windows 7 we’ve made sure we reached out to all of our key partners. We had quarterly meetings with the key OEM engineers. We spent a lot of time making sure that partners were ready. We’re confident that the ecosystem is ready.’
Just this week the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (Aseza) in Jordan said it was rolling out the operating system on 500 of its machines across all departments and offices. Microsoft worked closely with the authority, testing a range of widely used applications throughout the development cycle.
Zeid Shubailat, Country Manager of Microsoft Jordan, also pointed to compatibility, again highlighting that Microsoft is keen to avoid accusations this time around of poor integration with other products.
“Windows 7 was designed to make things easier for users, with application compatibility being one of our main concerns, which allows for faster deployment as was demonstrated in the case of Aseza,” said Shubailat.