Windows 7: Corporate customers bullish on adoption plans

Many companies that eschewed Vista will go straight from XP to Windows 7

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Skidmore says INHS is getting ready to begin the application-validation process. He says it's not out of the question to have a good portion of users migrated to the new OS in about a year.

The Netherlands Ministry of Defense is another early adopter of Windows 7.

Shands Healthcare's Brad Kowal
Brad Kowal, assistant director of data center operations at Shands HealthCare, says his company has no immediate plans to move its 6,000 PCs to Windows 7.

Christ van Gestel, the ministry's product group manager of application hosting, says at the moment 25 of the organization's 60,000 PCs are running Windows 7. That number will increase to 300 within a week or two, he says. The ministry's current operating system is Windows XP, although there are a few Vista workstations.

"We are just in the exploration phase to decide if we want to upgrade the OS," he says. "We are testing all our [1,300] applications for compatibility with Windows 7."

If the organization decides to adopt Windows 7 completely, van Gestel says that deployment would begin on July 1, 2010 and would be finished in approximately three years. He says that the defense ministry usually updates a client operating system during its normal hardware refresh cycle, which is typically 15,000 or so PCs per year.

While enterprises typically wait for the first service pack to be released before implementing a new operating system, analyst Kay's advice for corporate customers is to not wait for Windows 7 SP 1.

"Commonly in an enterprise that's been the wisdom -- wait for SP 1 because the OS isn't stable," Kay says. "But enterprises really don't have to wait for SP 1 -- that's the old wisdom. The new wisdom is that it's already been through its battle-testing and this is the good one. Yes there will be an SP 1 at some point but it won't be about stability, it will be about features or some accumulated security update or things like that."

Windows 7 results to date good, but expect a learning curve, too

So far, things are looking good, van Gestel says.

"Our normal goal is to reduce our total cost of ownership of desktops annually by 10%," he explains. To achieve that, the Ministry counts up a number of metrics: the reinstall time is less with 7, and there are fewer calls to the service desk and call center, he says. "Also we see a reduction in deployment time [with Windows 7] -- normally it takes two hours, now it only takes one hour."

The first 25 desktops that had Windows 7 installed required less IT time than with prior operating systems, he added. "Because Windows 7 is more stable," there was much less need to reinstall the OS, unlike other operating systems the Ministry has used. And "less reinstall time costs us less staff time."

His users have had only positive things to say about the new OS; it's easier to use and they like the new interface, he adds.

INHS' Skidmore says his users already on Windows 7 like its overall performance and stability, particularly when compared to Vista. But the feedback from former XP users is that there's bit of a learning curve to get accustomed to the changes in the user interface, he says.

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