Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
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10/1/2009
10:22 AM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
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Windows 7 Virtual Event Post-Game: Serious Tech Time

The big takeaway that surfaced at the successful Windows 7 Virtual Event we held on Wednesday is that many CIOs and admins are moving beyond the big-picture question of "should we upgrade or not" and are now focused on technical point issues, mostly related to performance and compatibility. (For those who couldn't attend, we'll have a replay archive posted withi

The big takeaway that surfaced at the successful Windows 7 Virtual Event we held on Wednesday is that many CIOs and admins are moving beyond the big-picture question of "should we upgrade or not" and are now focused on technical point issues, mostly related to performance and compatibility. (For those who couldn't attend, we'll have a replay archive posted within 48 hours, and I'll put up the link.)This is not to minimize the angst (nor the costs) surrounding a decision to upgrade. As we've previously reported, many enterprises -- one third, according to our survey -- are not planning to migrate right away, though the majority of sites are planning to move within various timeframes.

A Forrester survey I quoted found a similar dynamic. It says that many IT pros "plan to start their enterprisewide Windows 7 deployments in the late 2010/early 2011 time frame in line with the start of the next anticipated major corporate PC refresh cycle."

Whether or not upgrades take place immediately is beside the point, because there's a sense of inevitability that enterprises will make the shift, sooner or later. The dynamic here is the eight-year lag since Windows XP, coupled with Microsoft's ending of XP support. (The latter was a reason 42% of those we surveyed cited as their "primary driver" for migration.)

Given that inevitability, most attention is turning to those point questions about performance and compatibility we heard at our Wednesday's Window 7 Virtual Event. I will day that I picked up a general vibe from the attendees that those who've tested the beta and the release candidate are impressed with it, especially when compared to Windows Vista. A big Vista sticking point was the out-of-the-box availability, or lack thereof, of drivers. That issue has been licked with Windows 7.

Interestingly, while drivers are off the table as a worry, what's filled the vacuum is concern about application compatibility. Now, this is not so much Microsoft's problem as it is an application vendor issue. It's particularly in play in vertical markets served by highly specialized apps, where the assumption is that the provider hasn't ported to Windows 7 yet and might not for some period of time.

This in turn leads to questions about App-V performance, on the theory that, if a particularly application isn't available natively under Windows 7, what you'll do is run it in Windows 7's XP-compatibility virtualization window. Here, I have to say that users seem unconvinced that there will be no application-virtualization performance hit.

So, looping back to the beginning of this discussion, this means that the application upgrade cycle may emerge as much more of a sleeper as a gating factor for Windows 7 migration than all the stuff that's front of mind now.

Also emerging yesterday as questions/concerns were: the number of Windows 7 SKUs, the issue of how to handle in-place upgrades, the need for user training,

On the plus side, there appears to be a groundswell of enthusiasm for AppLocker and for BitLocker . (The former lets admins lock down your PC so that you can only run the apps they tell you can run, the latter enforces policy-oriented security on data, preventing users from writing out unauthorized files.) DirectAccess, which bypasses the need for VPNs, is also getting kudos, although it raised a bunch of operational questions about how it'll work in heavy VMware environments and also what it does to two-step authentication.

Like I said at the top, if you missed our Windows 7 Virtual Event, I'll post a link to the archive replay within 48 hours. If you attended the event, please leave your take in the comments below, or e-mail me directly at alex@alexwolfe.net.

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Alex Wolfe is editor-in-chief of InformationWeek.com.

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