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Windows 7: How has the uptake been?

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DQI Bureau
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Its cool. I love it. I hate it. Its just a GUI overhaulthese are some of

the reactions from Windows 7 users and going by the initial reactions in India,

Microsofts newest OS seems to have gone well so far. Anything Microsoft does is

critically thread-bared and Windows 7 is no exception. Windows 7 without a doubt

is a new age OS and right from Beta to RTM, Microsoft has kept the OS interest

at a high decibel.

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While India specific consumer adoption figures are not available, however

according to Microsoft sources around 5,000 enterprises in India have adopted

Windows 7 and given that its just about six months post the official launch,

the numbers look indeed encouraging. Most of the enterprises which had taken the

plunge has derived a whole lot of benefits. Says Sumeet Khanna, director,

Windows client business group, Microsoft India, Since the launch 5,000 Indian

enterprises have adopted Windows 7; and 60% of the deployments were large

enterprises and SMBs constitute the remaining 40%.

Adoption Dynamics



Any version updates come with its advantages and limitations. When we look

at Microsoft Vista, there the transition from XP to Vista was not that smooth,

because Vista upgrades called for some big hardware changes, that many saw as a

big limitation in migrating to Vista at that time. But in a very intelligent

strategy for Windows 7, Microsoft kept the hardware requirements to the current

industry standard PC configurations and fixed some of the teething issues in

Vistain areas like system response, seamless multi-tasking and overall simple

and clutter free user interface. Yet another significant area that gave Windows

7 a good start relates to device drivers. In most instances PCs running Vista

and XP ran Windows 7 and there were no significant hardware compatibility

issues. Moreover for XP users, Microsoft made provisions to run Windows XP

productivity programs in Windows XP mode. Microsoft also forged closer ties with

ISVs to improve its apps compatibility on Windows 7 and made a conscious

decision that glitches are kept to the minimum when enterprises migrate their

pre-existing older applications to Windows 7. According to Khanna, By the end

of 2010 our goal is to reach 30,000 enterprises deployments for Windows 7.

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Indeed a lofty goal, but Khanna firmly believes that the company will reach

that milestone given the pace at which the OS is growing in India. There are two

kinds of adoptions happening for Windows 7. One, large enterprises are migrating

and secondly, given the productivity improvements in SMBs, all new PC purchases

are inclined towards Windows 7.

Early Adopters



If we look at some of the large deployments, companies like Wipro which has

adopted Windows 7 in a big way, expect desktop management efficiency gains of

20%. Microsoft sources say that early users of Windows 7 have found the user

interface design to be much improved and easier to use. Logging on to the

corporate network from remote locations is much faster due to features like VPN

Reconnect, which automates recovery from virtual private network connection

failures. Meanwhile another major enterprise feature that has gone well with

users is the search feature in Windows 7, that is far better than its previous

Windows editions.

Yet another significant area according to Microsoft in Windows 7 is security.

For instance, Bangalore International Airport (BIAL) leveraged the OS BitLocker

effectively for security management. BIAL is successfully using the BitLocker

drive encryption to safeguard data on its hard drives without having to use and

manage third party encryption software. Other large enterprises like Wipro says

that desktop management has become far easier with Windows 7. For instance,

using Windows 7 administrators can manage desktop images and can automate

repetitive and complex tasks using Windows PowerShell 2.0 command-line interface

which is a powerful scripting language built into Windows 7. Sources say that by

using group policy, IT staff can better control the security of computer fleet

by using features like BitLocker, AppLocker and leverage virtualization features

like Application Virtualization 4.5 to stream applications to client computers

on-demand.

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Looking at the early adopters, the value they have derived so far out of

Windows 7 revolves around two areas: one is productivity and the other is better

security. Productivity comes from some of the inherent strengths of OS that

gives better insight and control over the desktops. In a large fleet of

desktops, security is a big challenge and some of the in-built features like

BitLocker and AppLcoker are an indispensable tool.

Since the launch 5,000

Indian enterprises have adopted Windows 7. Of which 60% deployments were

with large enterprises and 40% with SMBs

Sumeet Khanna,

director, Windows client business group, Microsoft India

Windows 7 is a good blend of

performance, features and security. The Windows XP mode in Windows 7 ensures

that even legacy applications which are not compatible can be run on Windows

7

VV Jacob, senior manager, systems, Malayala

Manorama

From a mid-sized enterprise perspective too Windows 7 is finding a reasonable

good adoption. Take the case of Malayala Manorama which is in the process of

deploying Windows 7 to over 850 PCs is taking a significant leap from the

existing XP systems. According to VV Jacob, senior manager, systems, Malayala

Manorama, Windows 7 is a good blend of performance, features and security. The

Windows XP mode in Windows 7 ensures that even legacy applications which are not

compatible can be run on Windows 7.

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Whats Next



Arguably, Windows 7 is one of the best PC OSs, after XP, from Microsoft and

the company is leaving no stone unturned in making it really big. Industry

sources say that Microsoft is on the verge of releasing Windows 7 Service Pack

(SP 1) that will make the OS more robust. But many feel one of the biggest

bottlenecks would be piracy which would create huge losses for Microsoft in

India. Windows 7, despite its validation tools and online activation, has been

pirated in India like all other proprietary software. Microsoft sources, while

acknowledging the fact, say that it is working on a multi-pronged strategy to

bring down piracy of its products.

Cleary bigger mandates for Microsoft lie in large enterprises facing desktop

management issues. The adoption rates in India suggest that Windows 7 has

already created a compelling value and users will see a significant leap when

migrating from XP or Vista. With a combination of speed, performance, security

and a range of well thought out enterprise class features makes Windows 7 a

well-rounded OS. But still, due to the unique India market dynamics, XP and

Vista will continue to be a big slice in the PC OS pie in the next two years;

and except large enterprises, most of the deployments in desktops is expected to

happen in a phased manner. Meanwhile in the notebooks space, analysts are

expecting a faster adoption as mainstream notebooks mostly come with pre-loaded

OS.

As we look ahead, Microsoft does not want to keep its legacy OSs like XP

alive for a long time. Hence, enterprises inevitably have to take the Windows 7

plunge. Analysts believe that Windows 7 will get a significantly better

reception than Windows Vista, and it expects it to become the predominant OS in

both the corporate and the consumer space over the next four years. For most

corporate users, the critical factor is the end of life for Windows XP, which

Microsoft will not support after April 2014. Analysts anticipate waning third

party support for XP beginning in late 2011, and accelerating through 2012. Most

analysts expect that during 2010, CIOs will be putting in place Windows 7

migration roadmap and slowly move towards and by the end of this year large

scale deployments will happen in big numbers.

Shrikanth G



shrikanthg@cybermedia.co.in

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