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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Analyst Kay says what's really changed from Vista is the behavior of the front end, which is all about the user interface. "It's faster, it's much less chatty, it doesn't babble at you all the time," he says. "And it's very flexible."

For example, Windows 7 allows people to adjust the User Account Control (UAC), a controversial security feature that debuted in Vista that uses pop-up messages to notify users that a program is making changes to their systems. In Vista, there were no user-settable pieces of UAC settings, but with Windows 7 there are.

Still, Skidmore adds, "It's really the stability and the speed that I'm hearing the most about. And the longtime XP users say that it looks nicer and it's a much sexier, modern-looking interface. And while there's no such thing as a fully secure OS, Windows 7 seems to be considerably more secure out of the box and I think that's a real plus."

For his part, Del Monte's Wynn says users like the faster shutdown and startup processes, as well as the hibernation mode. And, he says, they like the fact that the OS intuitively knows if they're connecting to their wireless systems at home or if they're working at the office.

Hardware requirements not a big deal

Skidmore says the different hardware requirements for Windows 7 vs. those for Windows XP are not very significant. In fact, he says that issue always comes up with new operating systems. To help solve that problem, INHS is on a three-year replacement schedule for desktops so the company can cycle users to a new operating system as it's replacing laptops and desktop computers.

But the cost of hardware upgrades to meet the system requirements aren't likely to be significant barriers to deployment of Windows 7 as they were with Vista, says Dean Williams, services development manager for Softchoice Corp., a Toronto-based reseller.

Windows Vista minimum specs
  • 800MHz CPU
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 20GB hard drive
  • SVGA-capable graphics
Windows 7 minimum specs
  • 1GHz CPU
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 16GB of drive space
  • DirectX 9-capable graphics card or integrated chip (true of most releases 2002 and after)

That's because 88% of corporate PCs are already able to support the minimum system requirements of Windows 7, according to a survey by Softchoice, based on data from 450,000 PCs at 284 North American organizations between November 2008 and August 2009.

"It's our feeling that there is work to be done for that small percentage of the PCs that need more RAM and more hard drive," Williams says. "Parts are inexpensive and the labor is nominal, but what would be difficult is creating a list of all those computers that they need to action and beyond that making sure they're properly covered from a licensing standpoint."

Additionally, as with any upgrade, Williams says companies need to make sure that they're prepared for the potential spike in support desk traffic and that users are being properly educated on how to use the new operating system.

Not everyone's in a rush

Brad Kowal, assistant director, data center operations at Shands HealthCare in Gainesville, Fla., says his company has no immediate plans to move its 6,000 PCs to Windows 7. Currently 10% of those PCs run Vista while the rest run XP, he says.

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