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IT gives Windows 7 the green light

After taking a pass on Vista, IT shops are ready to commit to Microsoft's new PC operating system.

May 24, 2010 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Jim Thomas said no to Windows Vista -- but Windows 7 is an entirely different matter.

Thomas, director of IT operations at Pella Corp., says his IT team began beta-testing Vista's successor a year ago as an upgrade path from Windows XP. By October, just two months after Windows 7 launched, the Pella, Iowa-based window and door manufacturer had 225 Windows 7 clients up and running -- and the feedback from both the IT staff and end users has been generally positive.

Pella is ready to move forward, Thomas says. "We will have 50% of our users -- that's 2,500 machines -- deployed on Windows 7 in 2010," he says. By the end of next year he expects to have 90% of his users on the new operating system.

This time, IT organizations say, it looks like Microsoft Corp. has delivered the goods. And just in time. About 80% of IT organizations didn't adopt Vista, according to research firm Gartner Inc. Instead, the vast majority of enterprise users remain on Windows XP, an eight-and-a-half-year-old operating system that should have passed into the high-tech fossil record long ago.

Computerworld surveyed 285 IT professionals to gauge their attitudes and intentions regarding Windows 7. Overall, 72% of the respondents said they plan to migrate to Windows 7, with 70% saying that they will implement it within a year or that they already are installing it.

The No. 1 reason cited for upgrading: to get off of Windows XP. That said, almost 40% of the survey respondents reported that they will continue using XP until Microsoft stops supporting it -- in April 2014 -- before they install Windows 7 on all of their Windows machines.

However, those willing to wait that long are in the minority. "We're ready to move on," says Paul Shane, IT director at the Philadelphia office of Milliman Inc., an actuarial consulting firm based in Seattle. He avoided Vista, but he expects to have most of his 150 desktops and laptops on Windows 7 by the end of this year. Disappointed with Vista, Shane briefly considered moving to Macs and the OS X operating system. But now, he says, "we've cast those aside."

Thomas and Shane both say they aren't even going to wait for the first service pack, which Gartner analyst Michael Silver says customers can expect sometime this summer.

What IT Wants

For IT, Windows 7 is an opportunity to take advantage of new features and better integration. Windows Server and Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager, in particular, can save money by requiring fewer pieces of management software and can make managing desktops easier.

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