Windows 7 Launch: Early Adopters Eager to Bid Farewell to XP

At the Windows 7 launch in New York, businesses planning to migrate to Windows 7 discussed cost savings, testing strategies, and security hopes and fears with CIO.com. One consensus: Windows XP is on life support.

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Fri, October 23, 2009

CIO

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. With user interface and networking features that are both slick and useful, and an army of hardware makers lined up with special deals on everything from netbooks to high-end gaming PCs running Windows 7, the setting seems ripe for consumers to upgrade or buy a new computer.

Consumers. Check.

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.

[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system -- including hands-on reviews, video tutorials and advice on enterprise rollouts -- see CIO.com's Windows 7 Bible. ]

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.

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"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."

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