Windows 7 has features that point to the future of the desktop.
Windows 7 comes at an interesting time. The very notion of the desktop is being challenged by everything from virtual desktops and cloud options to netbooks and iPhones. None of these changes will come to the enterprise overnight, but all will influence the configuration of your end-user environment over the next three years. It's in this light that we take a look at eight elements of Windows 7 that enterprises need to factor into their plans for rolling out Microsoft's latest operating system.
As more employees work outside the office, IT needs new strategies to keep them supported, secure, and productive. Two key features of Windows 7, BranchCache and DirectAccess, are excellent starting points for the next generation of improved mobile access.
DirectAccess leverages IPv6 and IPsec into a system that provides secure connectivity back to the main network, regardless of where users are connected--or even whether they're logged in at all. BranchCache also helps users at remote offices stay productive because the network can be configured to cache Web pages and files on local servers or in a round-robin peer style for sites without local servers, ensuring that frequently accessed data and files will be served up quickly to end users.
One sticking point: Both features require Windows Server 2008 R2.
2. Infosec teams will like Win 7
There's a lot of good news on the security front with Windows 7. Most of the improvements are a continuation of initiatives that started with Vista, including Microsoft's Secure Development Lifecycle, which the company hopes will reduce exploitable code flaws in its software. Windows 7 is one of the first products to come through the full development life cycle.
At the same time, more thought was put into reducing the impact that intrusive security can have on the user experience. The company has retained the concept of User Account Control but reduced the number of pop-ups that frustrated Vista users.
Other features, such as BitLocker, are updated, including the ability to encrypt removable devices. There are new security features, too, including AppLocker, which lets administrators prevent users from downloading and running unauthorized software.
3. It has better management
While BitLocker and AppLocker don't need Windows Server 2008 R2 to function, they do need Advance Group Policy Management 4.0. In fact, there are more than 350 new control options, many of which boost desktop control, power management, and the ability to use different functions based on machine location. However, you'll only get the full functionality for AGPM 4.0 with Windows Server 2008 R2.
Are you sensing a theme here?
4. It's netbook-friendly
A recent InformationWeek Analytics survey shows massive potential for netbook growth, from 35% in the enterprise today up to a projected 72% within two years. Smaller and less expensive than laptops, netbooks are perfect mobile devices for those on a budget. The bulk of netbooks in organizations today run XP Pro and Linux. Win 7 plays nicely on most netbooks, however, especially the pro version. That said, organizations should push for the enterprise version to get features like DirectAccess.