Deploy Windows Vista or Wait for Windows 7?
Hey! Have you heard of Windows 7? LOL. Yeah, even my 13yr old is quizzing me on the date. Which is kinda funny, seeing that he’s the IT guy in the house. Well, Windows 7 is on the minds of our customers and Partners; I’m sure that most (all) of you are running the Beta too on some machine. The interest has been amazing (Circa Windows 95 maybe?) and it’s something we’re really happy and proud about. But the #2 question I hear from customers (after “When is it being released?) is “What should I be doing?” I’ll share with you the same guidance I’ve given to our field sales teams, customer’s I’ve met and our Partners. It’s framed around 3 statements:
Windows 7 is not a panacea for bad IT. Many of the customers I speak with are running Windows XP with a mix of Basic or Standard-optimized capabilities. That’s concerning; not because they aren’t running Windows Vista, but because they haven’t used the time to optimize their infrastructure. Windows 7 could be the next best thing to sliced bread, but if you don’t have the ability to build 2 images max, deploy without touching the desktop, leverage virtualization technologies, etc. it doesn’t really matter does it? I love technology just as much as the next techie, but make sure you have your priorities in the right order: training the staff, improving the server infrastructure and having a solid PC lifecycle plan. Which brings me to my next point, which is…
There are no stop signs on the road to Windows 7. If there is one consistent behavior I’ve seen over the past 2 client OS releases, it’s a hesitance to pull the trigger on deployment before SP1. Why is that? 2 reasons: confidence in the RTM quality and preparedness. Hopefully, we’re earning your trust and the interest in Windows 7 beta has proven to be a worthwhile consideration of early adoption. But if it were to RTM today are you ready to deploy? In most cases, the answer is probably not. And that’s too bad, because with Windows XP going into Extended Support, many of you may be in a reactive mode rather than proactively managing your desktop. So how can an IT shop plan for Windows 7? There are 4 resources you should be considering, as a way to keep your foot on the gas:
Desktop Deployment Planning Services. This is a free services engagement for customer with Software Assurance. It will pay for either a Partner or Microsoft Consulting Services to come on site for anywhere from 3-15 days and help you plan & pilot your deployment of Office 2007, Windows Vista or Windows 7.
Microsoft App Compat Toolkit. Most applications written for Windows Vista will run stock on Windows 7, so do your testing on Windows Vista. By doing so, you’ll be able to set a baseline with Windows Vista and return to it, rather than Windows XP, should an application not be immediately supported at RTM.
Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack. This subscription service has everything a band of IT rock stars could hope for, including:
- Asset Inventory Service. Wouldn’t it be great to know exactly how many applications are in your Enterprise? Who is running them? What version? Many customers have work to do in understanding the scope of effort necessary to manage their applications. With AIS, this is something that can be started today, and likely decrease licensing costs and time spent building images, while increasing manageability.
- Microsoft Application Virtualization. Pick your flavor: VPC, MED-V, APP-V, VDI. Never has there been so many ways to decrease the challenges of application compatibility, the time and cost of deploying and managing the desktop. Read the full Microsoft virtualization story here.
- Advanced Group Policy Management. Managing multiple client OSes is the reality. AGPM gives that added level of flexibility and manageability to the desktop experience.
And finally the Springboard Series, chock-full of Windows client training resources.
It’s not about Windows Vista vs Windows 7. It’s about Desktop Optimization.
Your IT vision is probably less about what version of Windows to deploy, and more about optimizing your IT infrastructure and desktops. The Microsoft platform can help you do that, and I encourage you to expect the support of your account team and technology Partners to make that a reality. So without further ado, here’s what to do:
If you are deploying Windows Vista today, keep deploying Windows Vista. Take advantage of your MDOP subscription to begin exploring virtualization technologies.
If you are running Windows NT/2000 (or older). Deploy Windows Vista now. Seriously. Virtualize OS-dependent applications and get on a supported operating system.
If you are running Windows XP, begin your planning and infrastructure preparation now. When you are ready to being deploying, target Windows 7 but have Windows Vista as a fall-back if ISV support or appcompat issues are a blocker. You will be in the best position, with the agility and lower costs you’ve always hoped for.
So what do you think? I hope this gives everyone guidance they can take and make their own. It’s important that you use the announcement of Windows 7 as the opportunity to solidify your IT vision and make it a reality.