Windows 7 Rollout Lessons Learned by Early Adopters

Now's the time to learn from early adopters as you plan your Windows 7 rollout. As you deal with issues from timing to training, consider these five best practices Forrester has culled from work with Windows 7 earlybirds.

By
Tue, February 09, 2010

CIO

Windows 7 may have helped propel Microsoft's second quarter revenues to record levels, but many enterprises are still slowly, carefully deploying the OS, if at all.

For those enterprises mulling over a Windows 7 migration, now is the time to learn from the experiences of early adopters.

With that in mind, Forrester consulted over the past six months with 40 Windows 7 early adopters, most from large enterprises. The research firm then compiled a list of best practices for companies developing a Windows 7 migration strategy.

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

Feedback from IT managers shows high levels of satisfaction with Windows 7, writes report author and Forrester senior analyst Benjamin Gray.

"Through our customer interviews," writes Gray, "we've consistently heard about faster startup and shutdown times, the more reliable sleep mode and overall stability of the OS, faster access to data and applications through improved search, and a superior mobile and branch office connectivity experience."

Another benefit of Windows 7 cited by IT managers: it can reduce the need for third-party software through enterprise features like DirectAccess, which connects users to corporate networks without the use of a VPN (virtual private network).

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However, Windows 7 user feedback hasn't been all roses. Users have been griping that Windows 7 prematurely warns that laptop battery life is low. As complaints grew louder, Microsoft investigated the issue, concluding that the battery-metering feature of Windows 7 works fine, and that some users were not aware their batteries were degrading. Users are currently disputing this explanation.

Forrester's consulting work was done before trouble with Windows 7 and battery life surfaced in the past two weeks.

As far Windows 7 enterprise upgrades, Gray writes that Windows 7 will follow the typical mainstream adoption time cycle of 12 to 18 months after general availability. But it's never too soon to start planning. Here are Forrester's five best practices for migrating to Windows 7.

Don't Take App Compatibility Lightly

Microsoft did more preparation for the hardware and software ecosystem of Windows 7 than it did for Vista. But IT pros still need to do extensive application inventory and compatibility testing, especially when moving from Windows XP.

Companies that are on Windows XP or earlier should expect approximately two-thirds of their applications not to be natively supported on Windows 7, according to Forrester. But companies that have deployed Vista or have done extensive application compatibility testing against it should expect that two-thirds to reduce to 3 to 5 percent, writes Gray.

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