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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But Matt Okuma has found that some applications run better. Okuma, enterprise architect at BEST Technology Services, a business unit of Pacific Coast Building Products, says his Cisco unified communications software never worked properly on about 100 of the Vista machines he rolled out. Some of those, he says, had to be rolled back to Windows XP. With Windows 7, however, it runs just fine. "We love it. Everything just works," he says.

Well, almost. Initially Windows 7 machines running Internet Explorer 8 couldn't connect to his iPrism proxy server, but he says the vendor, St. Bernard Software, provided a fix quickly. He plans to start rolling out Windows 7 to all 3,500 users next year.

The IE8 quandary

The good news is that Internet Explorer 8 follows industry standards more closely than did IE7 and IE6. The bad news: Its lack of backward compatibility with proprietary features in previous versions of the Microsoft browser may cause problems for Web sites and applications designed to work with those browser versions -- especially IE6. More than half of survey respondents (53 percent) said that they may have applications that won't run properly with IE8.

"If you have apps that were written to IE6 you're going to have some issues," Silver says, and he warns that IE8 runs with fewer Windows user rights on Windows 7 than it did on XP. A Microsoft spokesperson says that administrators can set up Windows 7 machines to run previous versions of IE in XP Mode if necessary.

Premier Health Partners has a medical imaging application that still requires IE6 and a clinical application that requires IE7. "We're in a quandary here," says Sam Seay, corporate director of infrastructure. While he could use XP compatibility mode to try to run IE6 and IE7 on some machines, Seay says he prefers to wait for the vendors to support IE 8.

"The biggest issue is making sure you do application compatibility testing," Thomas says. Pella's IT staff has had to update software releases and work through issues on some of the company's approximately 400 applications. Pella is still testing compatibility; the firm started with its most-used applications, in terms of the number of users. "Our issue has been on older apps that didn't necessarily follow current development guidelines," Thomas says, explaining that Pella's had to make some "small adjustments" on approximately 20 percent of its applications, or get updates if a more current release exists.

In general, he says, "We haven't had too many applications that we haven't been able to get running."

Overall, after more than eight years living with XP, most organizations say they finally feel comfortable moving on. Shane feels confident that the transition will go smoothly at Milliman. "It's not something completely new," he says. "They just made a better Vista."

This story, "IT gives Windows 7 the green light" was originally published by Computerworld.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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