Early adopters finding Windows 7 saves time and energy

IT execs at large firms say it's a significant upgrade over Microsoft Windows XP

ORLANDO -- Some early enterprise adopters of Window 7 say they expect that Microsoft's new operating system will cut power costs while saving its users time by booting up more quickly and better managing power use.

The corporate users, who took part in a panel at Gartner Inc.'s Symposium/ITxpo conference here, are migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 after skipping Windows Vista.

Jim Thomas, director of IT operations at Pella Corp., a window and door maker in Des Moines, said the group policy controls in Windows 7 are helping the company's IT department better manage power use. A desktop or laptop user may be able temporarily reset power management controls, "but every time the group policy reapplies, it puts the power setting down that we want to apply," he said.

Thomas said that he is conservatively estimating that the use of Windows 7 will result in about $20,000 in annual power savings once the software is fully deployed.

About 200 out of the company's 4,000 users are running Windows 7 so far, Thomas noted. He said he expects half of the company's users to be upgraded to Windows 7 next year and the rest during 2011.

Mike Capone, CIO at Automatic Data Processing Inc. in Roseland, N.J., said that about 300 of ADP's 30,000 users are running the new operating system. He said he has seen estimates that the Windows 7 power management capabilities could deliver savings "into the six-figure range on an annual basis" once the full ADP rollout is completed. He expects all users at the payroll processor to be running Windows 7 within 36 months.

The panelists lauded the significant speeding of the Windows 7 boot-up process, noting that it cuts minutes off the process.

Randy Benz, CIO of Energizer Holdings Inc., said that 40 IT workers at the company best known for its batteries has been running a Windows 7 pilot. The operating system will be deployed to about 8,800 more employees by the end of 2010.

Benz said Windows 7 boots up about 80% faster than XP, which can take five minutes or so. "We're seeing a radical change from what we're experiencing with XP," said Benz. "My pet peeve is boot-up time with XP. It seems the longer you use it, the worse it gets."

Thomas said he expects the operating system's improved screen management capabilities will help call center employees cut down on time spent per call. If the software cuts a typical call by only 10 seconds, the saved time would add up quickly during the day and "turn into the ability to take more calls."

It may be a while before some other users at the conference, such Bill Piatt, CIO of the World Bank's International Finance Corp., move to Windows 7. He said it recently rolled out Windows Vista to 20,000 users as part of a hardware upgrade. The OS and hardware upgrade "were in lockstep with each other," he noted.

Piatt said he's interested in Windows 7, but minimally. He added that the company would wait until Windows 7's first service pack is released "before we would consider engineering a replacement."

Michael Zachary, an enterprise architect at Cook Children's Health Care System in Fort Worth, Texas, has been working with Windows 7 for three weeks and likes it enough to move off of Vista as soon as he can. "General performance, start-up, shutdown, general reliability, seems to be quite good," he said.

It takes his Vista software so long to long shut down, "you end up just killing it," said Zachary. Windows 7, he said, boots up in less than two minutes and shuts down in about 30 seconds.

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