In getting ready for Wednesday's 10 am eastern Windows 7 Virtual Event, hosted by the InformationWeek Business Technology Network (i.e., us, and you can register here), I've been trying to get a feel for just how rapidly enterprises will adopt the new operating system.Even if Windows 7 weren't a very good client operating system -- and it is, on everything from security and diagnostics/management to its surrounding ecosystem -- there'd be a very good chance it'd catch on not just with consumers but with large enterprises. We've already effectively skipped one OS update cycle with Vista, and PC technology has advanced a lot since Windows XP debuted in October, 2001, so pent-up demand is clearly at play. Actually, enterprise deployment is already happening.
Before I point to a bunch of adoption cases, let me note that a) I'm not trying to be a cheerleader here and b) I am well aware of the surveys which indicate a not insubstantial reluctance against upgrading. Indeed, I blogged recently about our own InformationWeek Analytics survey, which found that more than a third of respondents have no plans to deploy Windows 7 at this time.
My sense is that these numbers are a reflection of rational sentiments against spending money in this tough economy. People don't want to upgrade unless they have to. However, I believe that enterprises running aging Windows XP infrastructures will upgrade sooner or later -- most likely, on a middling time frame, as in over the next 12 to 36 months. I think the ROI case for upgrading (which I'll write about in a subsequent blog) will mitigate the expense side of the equation. And, as we start to emerge from the economic swoon, the case for upgrading will become progressively easier.
On tomorrow's Virtual Event (you can register here), Microsoft CIO Tony Scott will discuss what amounts to probably the biggest test case today of enterprise deployment of Windows 7. Tony has led the internal deployment of upwards of ten thousand seats inside Microsoft. Scott told me frankly in a chat last week that, while he didn't have to pay for the software (it's Microsoft to Microsoft, after all), his deployment was definitely being rated, on a metric of number of incidents. By that measure, Scott reports that the upgrade has been successful.
Still, one wants collateral confirmation before diving in. On that score, Microsoft pointed me to a the city of Miami, Florida, which upgraded some 2,500 PCs. (Two thirds of those were running Windows XP, which I guess mirrors the reality most of us see.)
OK, back to a quick wrap of tomorrow's Virtual Event. Its official title, btw, is "The Business Case for Windows 7." In addition to Tony Scott, we will be talking with Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft's Windows Client lead. Tony and Gavriella will be in the keynote sessions, which I will host, at 10 am eastern.
Here's the full sked:
10:00: Virtual Event Opens
10:30 - 11:15:
Opening Keynote Panel: "Making the Switch?" Microsoft executives present the opportunities and benefits of the Windows 7, followed by a lively Q&A session devoted to discussing the pros and cons of switching over existing enterprise platforms to the new OS. Microsoft CIO Tony Scott discusses Microsoft's own internal plans for deployment, while Gavriella Schuster, senior director for product management, outlines expectations for customer experience and takes attendee questions Presenters: Tony Scott, CIO, Microsoft Gavriella Schuster, Senior Director of Product Management for Windows Client, Microsoft Moderator: Alex Wolfe, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek.com
11:30 - 12:15 Microsoft Platinum Feature Presentation: Windows 7 and the Optimized Desktop There are many factors that go into a desktop computing architecture in today's workspace. Some customers are looking at thin clients and virtual clients, yet some are focused on empowering a mobile workforce. Windows 7 has new capabilities to meet the needs of today's computing environment. This session will go over today's computing trends and how the new Windows 7 capabilities and the Optimized Desktop vision address the latest computing trends. This presentation will focus on meeting your current desktop needs based on user needs, rather than implying that one technology fits all. Guest Speaker: Jeff Johnson, Enterprise Strategist, Microsoft Moderator: Brian Gillooly, Editor in Chief of Events, Techweb
12:30 - 1:15: Panel Discussion: "Developing A Corporate Migration Strategy" A Fortune 1000 company discusses its plans for developing a corporate migration strategy for Win7, and addresses the pros and cons of why some shops may wait for the first service pack, while others will be more aggressive in their adoption strategies. Panelists: Stephen Savage, Senior VP and CIO, CA Inc. Michael Ogrinz, Author, "Mashup Patterns: Designs and Strategies for using Mashups in Enterprise Environments;" Principal Architect for Global Markets for Fortune 50 Financial Institution Moderator: John Foley, Editor, InformationWeek
2:45 - 3:30: Panel Discussion: "Evaluating the Optimization and Performance of Win 7" A panel of corporate IT experts -- including practitioners, consultants, and independent testers -- walk through some of the new features of Win 7 and discuss their findings, including what makes the platform different from XP and Vista. The panel will discuss five areas critical to enterprises as they determine their strategy for Windows 7: Core OS performance and requirements; Virtualization capabilities; Deployment issues; Remote access features; and Security features. Along with detailed observations from lab testing, you'll hear in-depth discussion about how the new features of Windows 7 can both positively and negatively affect productivity and overall infrastructure performance. Finally, the panelists will provide tips on unique uses of Windows 7 features and advice on best practices Panelists: Randy George, Senior Systems/Network Analyst, Boston Red Sox; Michael Healy, President, Yeoman Technology Group Moderator: Art Wittmann, Editor, InformationWeek Analytics
4:45 -5:30: Panel Discussion: "Securing Windows 7 and Addressing Compliance Issues" A panel of enterprise platform managers and consultants discuss how Win 7 addresses some security shortcomings in Microsoft's existing platforms and address what steps enterprises still must take with Win 7, including partnerships with third parties. Panelists: Michael A. Davis, CEO, Savid Technologies; Hart Rossman, Vice President and CTO for Cyber Programs, SAIC; Rob "Bubba" Hines, Senior Technical Architect, Global Architecture and Strategy, Global Markets & Research, Bank of America Moderator: David Berlind, Chief Content Editor, TechWeb
Hope you can attend.
For further reference, here are some Windows 7 screen shots from a couple of installs I did, along with Win 7 enterprise PowerPoints from Microsoft:
Windows 7 screen shot (Click for larger image and for full photo gallery.)
Microsoft slides spotlight the tech features of Windows 7. (Click to enlarge, and to see more PowerPoints.)
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Alex Wolfe is editor-in-chief of InformationWeek.com.