by Shane O'Neill

Microsoft to Businesses: Windows 7 Is About You

Mar 05, 20093 mins
Data Center

For awhile there it seemed as if Microsoft had forgotten who butters its bread. It’s businesses of course! The enthusiasm around the Windows 7 beta largely involved consumery UI features such as the nifty taskbar, Aero Peek navigation feature and clickable mouse-over thumbnails.

Now, Microsoft is on a campaign to shift the attention to Windows 7 enterprise features. The software giant wants enterprises to know that their feedback is helping to shape Windows 7.

In an ongoing blog entitled “Windows for your Business” Windows senior director for Windows product management Gavriella Schuster has been doling out upgrading advice, extolling Windows 7 enterprise features and most recently revealing the process by which Microsoft tested Windows 7.

Indeed, Windows 7 has much to offer businesses. That is if they are willing to deploy a new OS it in this grimmest of grim economies (and deploy Windows Server 2008 R2 in order for some of the features to work). Recently, I wrote a story called “Windows 7: Enterprise Features Explained” based on an interview with Schuster. Microsoft is now pitching to businesses how and why these features came to be and how they were tested.

In her blog post, Schuster says that for Windows 7 Microsoft engaged with customers and partners for feedback more so than any time in the past. The goal is to prevent the application and driver compatibility problems that tainted Windows Vista. Microsoft also performed 1 million hours of automated performance testing on Windows 7, Schuster says.

To allow testing with its customers and partners, Microsoft created a handful of different programs including: a Desktop Advisory Council comprised of IT leaders from various industries providing general feedback; TAP (Technology Adoption Program), made up of engineers who tested Windows 7 beta and pre-beta code in real-world situations; and First Wave Program, a group of enterprise customers currently deploying the Windows 7 beta in their environments and giving real-time feedback.

Microsoft also collected data from 4,000 IT customers which showed that their top concerns are — not surprisingly — risk management, compliance and mobility.

Some key findings that Microsoft says it used to develop Windows 7 features:

  • 56 percent said they need help protecting corporate data on laptops and external hard drives (this validated the inclusion of BitLocker and development of BitLocker to Go for portable drives).

  • 61 percent said they need to ensure that users only install authorized applications (this led to development of AppLocker, which helps protect users from running software that could lead to malware infections).

  • 49 percent said they need to make it easier for remote workers to access corporate networks (this led to development of DirectAccess, which lets mobile workers connect to corporate networks without the use of a VPN).

  • Last week, a blog post from the Windows 7 engineering team outlining the changes that Microsoft has made in Windows 7 for its release candidate got a lot of press.

    With 36 tweaks to features in areas such as the user interface, Windows Media Player and Control Panel, Microsoft may be getting carried away this whole “listening to testers” thing, but it shows the company has learned from the sins of Vista and is executing on their promise to make Windows 7 more compatible.

    What do you think? Does Microsoft’s extensive testing and use of tester feedback make you more confident in Windows 7?