Windows 7, Our Savior?

Much has been said on Windows 7 (known as the "The Savior" among Vista users), and the general populace seems to like it. This is obviously music to Microsoft's ears, as many believe this OS to be the infamous software company's last desperate stand after the embarrassment, shame and tears that followed Vista through its beleaguered life. Some would say that Microsoft will soon become irrelevant if this OS fails (I disagree, but that's not for here). Come Oct. 22 (known as "The Seventh Coming" or just plain "Rapture") the users will indeed pass judgement on Windows 7, and its fate will be sealed.

At least, that's what everyone seems to think. Proponents of the new OS admire the new look and feel, the new tightness of the GUI. They heap praise on the various user interface enhancements, the start menu, the taskbar, and the uber-hip backgrounds. The hardware works this time around, and users don't need speed machines to get Windows 7 running smoothly. This is all good and well, but let me ask you this: As the system administrator of a 1000+ user IT infrastructure, do you really give a flying flapjack about the new taskbar? How about the new ways you can preview files? What about the Aero Peek GUI?

Didn't think so.

This is my issue with you, Windows 7. You may be solving all the problems that plagued Vista, and that's great. We love you for it. But there's a reason we never left XP, and it's not because we hated Vista (we did). XP works. It may not be the prettiest OS on the block, it may not have the biggest and the bestest features, but it has been a steady, reliable, and faithful companion to IT professionals through the years. It has consistently been able to meet the IT needs of businesses everywhere, and it still does. Businesses don't need slick graphics, fancy toolbars, or upgraded Freecell (I'm particularly excited about that one, though). Businesses need control, reliability, and speed. All of which XP is still faithfully supplying to this very day.

Users may herald Windows 7 as the Seventh Coming, but its true judgement will be at the hands of sys admins at large corporations. Home users are only a fraction of Windows' market. if Microsoft will come out of this release truly redeemed, they are going to have to impress the IT Pros. And that won't be easy.

You see, XP was easy. When faced with the choices of Windows 98, NT4, 2000, or even ME, switching to XP was a no-brainer. The back-end networking and security features that are the basis of IT infrastructures today were implemented well for the first time in XP. The integration with Windows Server 2003 that we also depend heavily on for things like Active Directory, VPN, Exchange (Outlook), was also revamped and overhauled in XP. It also included the option of a software firewall. While it did have a rocky start, and every big OS is going to have a rocky start, it matured quickly to be the OS of choice for businesses around the globe. It basically forced Novell out of the market, and IE took over as the default Internet Browser for the world. Now that it's been a few years, and XP is only more entrenched in the market, it's going to take a whole lot more than fancy graphics and driver updates to uproot the stable foundation that XP built.

The strategy that Windows 7 is employing to target that demographic is to re-introduce the Vista enterprise features that nobody used because they were in Vista, and to show off some new enterprise features that aren't groundbreaking, but safe.

BitLocker- This was a security feature in Vista that encrypted entire partitions with AES encryption (that's a strong one). In a corporate environment, this would go a long way in securing data beyond the basic NTFS encryption methods and permissions. With Windows 7, this capability will be extended to removable media such as flash drives, enabling this protection for remote and travelling users.

DirectAccess - one of the biggest complaints we get from users is that they can't get on to the VPN. Unfortunately, there's very little we can do from our end because the problem is typically their Internet connection. They have to work with their ISP to get it working. Even if it does work, it can be slow when sharing VPN with regular Internet. DirectAccess is a server implemented alternative to VPN that uses a regular Internet connection (using IPsec IPv6 or, if unavailable, IPv6 tunneled through IPv4 and SSL) to access network intranet resources. The DirectAccess server runs on the edge of the network and acts as a gateway to remote users. It's an interesting idea. I don't know if the performance increase is worth the purchase of a new server, but i guess time will tell.

AppLocker - The bane of all System Administration is user installed software. They are typically the cause of all evil and Windows 7 hopes to better enable the IT pro to control the deadly sin. AppLocker is basically a whitelist of downloads and applications that a user is allowed to install and/or configure. This is much more secure than a blacklist of things they can't do, and more thorough as well.

There a few others, and they are all pretty cool, but I still fall back to my original argument. These things are improvements, sure, but they aren't revolutionizing the OS like XP did. Windows 7 adds some nice touches here and there to enterprise IT management. But is it really worth the cost of implementation when you already have a stable, powerful OS, that MS will officially support against 2014? To completely destroy a saying, if it ain't broke, don't upgrade. If IT managers don't need the "cool" parts of the new OS (they don't), then Windows 7 will a lot more innovating to do if it really wants to be resurrected and proclaimed savior of mankind (and it does really want that).

1 comment:

Benjamin said...

You completely ignored the most important feature for companies that decide to migrate over.


This will allow any apps that have compatibility issues to be run inside a special virtualized compartment. It's a very good solution for the few that will need it.

Not only that, but Windows 7 is far better integrated with the latest releases of Server OSes. I'm not so sure that XP can take advantage of what Server 2008 R2 has to offer for companies. There's a lotta good stuff to help Sys Admins achieve their desired results.

It's also important to note (on the compatibility front) that many large companies are moving toward virtualized applications. That means that the client OS is not as relevant as it once was. You can run any program virtually in your data center and have it streamed to all of your companies machines.

Compatibility won't be an issue, true. The battlefront will be how well an OS integrates with the latest server OSes, and Windows 7 will have a lot to offer in this area. There's only so long a company can stick with an 8 year old OS before upgrades have to be made.

You forget that a lot of companies would have switched over to Vista were it no incompatible with everything they used. Things have changed now. Companies want and need to use the latest software, assuming it doesn't ruin everything else. Windows 7 accomplishes this, and it does it with style (something XP will never have). Companies will jump the bandwagon. The time has come.

Nice comic :) I hung it in my cubicle.

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