At the Windows 7 launch in downtown Manhattan, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the general availability of Windows 7 with his usual enthusiasm, emphasizing ease of use, faster boot up times and the ability to bring together the PC and the television.
Ballmer drum-beating aside, Windows 7 has garnered some of the best reviews of any version of the OS.
Not all enterprises are so gung ho about Windows 7 adoption... but there is a solid case for businesses to move on.
Enterprises, on the other hand, are a more complicated bunch.
Yet despite the testing, planning and time-consuming complexities of an enterprise OS upgrade, corporate customers at the Windows 7 launch interviewed for this story are hankering to deploy Windows 7 in their environments.
Early adopters from different lines of business and at different stages of migration agree on three points: Windows XP has had its day; Vista was never worth it; and Windows 7 offers businesses too many security, networking and navigation features to ignore.
XP Couldn't Last Forever
Holland America Line, a Seattle-based cruise ship company with a fleet that travels all over the world, has been aggressively testing Windows 7 as part of a migration from Windows XP for its 3,900 PCs across 14 cruise ships.
Application managers in the company's IT and finance departments have been testing Windows 7 for application compatibility for about a year.
Though only 20 machines run Windows 7 right now, IT manager Phil Norman says that a year from now he plans to have 50 percent of all machines at Holland America Line running Windows 7.
"We tested Vista with a small group, but there were too many application compatibility issues. The benefit just wasn't there," says Norman, adding that Windows 7 is a "much more usable operating system, with better security features."
Norman gives kudos to Windows XP for being a very stable and easy OS to maintain. "But only to a certain extent," he says. "More and more we're relying on third party vendors with XP, and it can't handle newer drivers."
Yes, Windows 7 Can Save You Money
Del Monte Foods, a San Francisco-based food production and distribution company that sells canned fruits and vegetables as well as pet foods, is at a similar stage in their Windows 7 deployment as Holland America Line, with 45 out of its 3,000 total business users running Windows 7 on their machines.
The other users run Windows XP. Del Monte plans to have Windows 7 on 1,000 machines within a year.
The company skipped Vista because it was "cumbersome, hard to use and had too many compatibility issues," says David Glenn, Del Monte's director of enterprise operations.
Even though migrating from XP to Windows 7 is estimated to cost $1,035 to $1,930 per user, according to research firm Gartner, Glenn is confident that Windows 7 will ultimately save money for Del Monte.
"The new Windows 7 hardware coming out is less expensive than hardware in XP's days," he says. "Also, Windows 7 is a lot easier to use, so our training and support costs will go down.
Glenn adds that because Microsoft is pushing Windows 7 in the home market, Del Monte will encourage employees to upgrade on their home machines.
"There's a lot of functionality in Windows 7 they can learn at home and bring with them to work. One good example is connecting to a printer is so much easier with Windows 7," he says.
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