IT gives Windows 7 the green light

After taking a pass on Vista, organizations are ready to commit to Microsoft's new OS. Here's why

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Like Thomas, he's not even waiting for the first service pack, which Gartner analyst Michael Silver says customers can expect some time this summer. (Microsoft had no comment on the availability of SP1.)

What IT wants: Enterprise features

For IT, Windows 7 is an opportunity to take advantage of new features and better integration, especially with Windows Server and Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager, which can save money by requiring fewer pieces of management software, and can make managing desktops easier.

Art Sebastiano, vice president of infrastructure at ModusLink Global Solutions, has been testing Windows 7 on a few dozen machines for a rollout on 3,500 machines in 30 global locations. He says Windows Server's account-credential (password) caching, which facilitates single sign-on and allows access to networked resources when a domain controller is unavailable, works better with Windows 7 clients. "Driver support and legacy compatibility has been good," he says, and adds that Microsoft offers a downloadable XP Mode program to facilitate backward compatibility.

For his part, Shane says group policy controls are improved under Windows 7. "We really love the new client group policy. You can manage a lot of things through group policy now that used to require a login script," he says.

For University HealthSystem Consortium, DirectAccess, which allows secure remote access without a separate VPN client and login, is a big win. Donald Naglich, director of technology infrastructure, says that for the half of his 275 users who use laptops, remote access will become more seamless. "It's one of the main reasons we want to [move to] Windows 7," he says. "It's one less piece of software we have to worry about from an integration standpoint." He plans to start migrating to Windows 7 early next year and hopes to have all systems upgraded by the end of 2011.

Will your organization wait for the first service pack before deploying Windows 7 in a production environment?

Yes, we will wait: 19 percent

No, we won't wait: 34 percent

Expect first service pack to be available by the time we get around to deployment: 26 percent

Service pack release is not a factor in our deployment plans: 17 percent

Don't know: 4 percent

Source: Computerworld online survey; 205 respondents

Pella is considering deploying DirectAccess for the same reasons. "Users don't like having to remember to launch a VPN client and log in," Thomas says. He's also interested in BranchCache, a remote office content-caching technology designed to speed up access to files stored on Windows Server 2008 from Windows 7 clients. "We want to see if it adds value," Thomas says.

Both Pella and Milliman see BitLocker, which provides full-volume encryption, as a solid win for laptop users. "We used a third-party product that didn't integrate well with Windows and had a separate password," says Milliman's Shane. "Now we can secure laptops and the encryption and security is transparent to the user." He says some offices are already using BitLocker to Go, which encrypts USB storage. Then, through group policy, machines are set up so that they can't store data on any USB device that's not using encryption.

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