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12/30/2009
11:00 AM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
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Windows 7 Year In Review

The operating-system buzz in 2009 may have been split 60/40 between Windows 7 and Google Chrome OS, but only the former is here today. As to whether a Web-centric OS like Chrome can ultimately edge out the most polished traditional desktop version ever, that's yet to be determined. During 2010, though, I expect that Windows 7 will increase its footprint, as enterprises initially wary of adoption begin to fold Win7 boxes into heterogeneous environments.

The operating-system buzz in 2009 may have been split 60/40 between Windows 7 and Google Chrome OS, but only the former is here today. As to whether a Web-centric OS like Chrome can ultimately edge out the most polished traditional desktop version ever, that's yet to be determined. During 2010, though, I expect that Windows 7 will increase its footprint, as enterprises initially wary of adoption begin to fold Win7 boxes into heterogeneous environments.My point in this year-end wrap-up post is to put before you again, hopefully for your reading pleasure, the stuff I wrote on Windows 7 during 2009. With the little bit of hindsight afforded by the month and a half since its consumer release, I think it's clear that much of the initial skepticism built up in advance of Windows 7, mostly inspired by the messy karma left by Vista, has dissipated.

I also suspect that Windows 7 would have had smoother early sailing if not for its bad luck in being released amid the worst economic environment in living memory. That completely pulled the rug out from under any possible business-adoption enthusiasm. Indeed, in an InformationWeek Analytics survey, we found that migration-cost concerns loomed large. This led to my post, Enterprises Iffy On Windows 7 Migration.

That said, I believe Windows 7 is gaining slow but consistent mindshare. It's pretty undeniable that people who use it like it, and like it better than either Vista (everyone) or XP (most people, especially if they have a computer powerful enough so that 7's extra performance drag isn't visible.)

I'd also add the tangential observation that even enterprises which haven't officially adopted Windows 7 are going to see Win7 boxes popping up in their environments. That is, unless they've got locked-down policies which rigidly enforce the images installed on all their systems. I suspect that fewer places actually live that way, even if they have written policies to that effect.

So in the real world, many businesses will requisition new equipment, which will come with Windows 7, and they'll deploy it. They may not have Windows Server 2008 R2 on their back end, and thus aren't taking advantage of all the data- and policy-control and security features, but the end result is that more and more people will use Windows 7 during 2010.

OK, so here's a quick recap of some of the Windows 7 stuff I wrote during the past year. I hope you'll check these out, and find that I've presented a mostly fair and balanced assessment of what I find to be a well-tempered product, though I should add that I still believe it'll be the last great desktop OS. Google Chrome might not be its replacement, but I think that the concept of Web-centric systems software is definitely the wave of the future.

Windows 7 Upgrades Drop Ball On Data Migration December 8 Today's experience of upgrading one's PC to a new operating system is qualitatively different from that of a decade ago. It's no longer so much about the OS. You've already got something decent; you're mostly adding new bells and whistles. What's different now is there's a lot more user data--pictures, e-mails and music/video files--to move over.

Wolfe's Den Podcast: Windows 7 Virtually Speaking November 02 Our columnist ponders the demise of virtual private networks (VPNs), examines virtual hard disks (VHDs), and chats with Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft's Windows client general manager, and Ward Ralston, Windows Server product manager.

Wolfe's Den: Less Client, More Cloud For Microsoft After Windows 7 October 12 Intriguing evidence points to the fact that cloud computing services for both enterprises and consumers--in the form of Azure and Windows Live--will loom larger in Microsoft's future than anyone realizes.

Mixed Review For Windows 7 Release Candidate May 26 Our columnist loves the performance -- and impressive enterprise ecosystem -- of the upcoming successor to Vista. But he wonders if Microsoft isn't missing a chance to offer more help to the average PC user.

Windows 7 Deep Dive March 03 Fresh from a Microsoft briefing, we delve into the key enterprise features of Windows 7, reveal some technical Powerpoint slides from Redmond, and wrap everything up with an opinionated video.

Making Book On Windows 7 February 04 Here's why Microsoft's upcoming successor to Vista will be a winner. Our columnist also visually walks you through his experiences installing the Windows 7 pre-beta and beta.

Microsoft Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) Gets Boost From Windows 7 August 14 Interest in Microsoft's Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) format is heating up as Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 move out into the marketplace. So here's some VHD news you can use in the form of pointers to two free online user guides.

MDOP Smoothes Path For Windows 7 Deployment Microsoft is firing on all marketing guns as it moves to create an adoption groundswell for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. For enterprise users, another key piece of the ecosystem is about to fall into place. That would be the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2009 R2, a multi-tentacled toolkit containing virtualization technologies and a bunch of management tools

Windows 7 Virtual Event Recap October 1 The big takeaway that surfaced at our recent Windows 7 Virtual Event 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.

Google Chrome OS Isn't Challenge To Microsoft July 16 The significance of Google's Chrome OS announcement is not the OS itself -- remember, it's not an actual product yet. Rather, it spotlights the shift away from laptops to netbooks and smartphones. Laptops are still corporate tools. But once applications and data are in the cloud, enterprises will ditch the costlier computers and get with true lightweight platforms.


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

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