IT organizations rejected Windows Vista en masse, and Windows 7 is Microsoft's response. Simply put, it's not enough. Slapping an upgraded UI onto an already discredited OS platform fools nobody and serves only to further alienate the very enterprise customers whom Microsoft claims to be wooing. What the company needs to do is listen to its corporate customers and implement the features that IT shops have been requesting: lower resource requirements, better backward compatibility, and a clear migration strategy from Windows XP. The window for lowering resource requirements in Windows 7 has undoubtedly closed. But it's not too late to fix Vista's spotty support for legacy Windows applications. Application virtualization technology is an ideal way to isolate troublesome applications. If Microsoft were to include its App-V bits in Windows 7 -- as part of a legacy-compatibility subsystem that could take over when a problem application is detected -- I'd take its claims of targeting the enterprise more seriously. As it stands, there's little in Windows 7 that IT shops will find compelling. Most of the new features are targeted squarely at consumers, which is the same formula that got Microsoft into trouble with Vista.
The larger question is what all those Vista refuseniks will do when their hopes for Windows 7 are crushed. Some will undoubtedly give in. After all, you can prop up Windows XP only for so long. However, for many shops, this may be the perfect opportunity to seriously explore the alternatives outside Microsoft. Ubuntu Linux gets more polished each quarter, while Apple hardware and Mac OS X continue to impress technical and nontechnical users alike.
One thing's for sure: Microsoft's once unassailable dominance of the enterprise desktop is wobbling on a precipice. Windows Vista has permanently eroded the company's reputation among IT decision makers, and from what we've seen of Windows 7 so far, Microsoft still does not "get IT."