Windows 7 and your business

What exactly is Windows 7 and what value does it offer your organisation?

Windows 7 might not be Microsoft's latest operating system (that honour falls to Windows 8) but it is the company's current golden child.

The arrival of the OS back at the end of 2009 marked something of a step change for the software giant. In the run up to and launch itself, the firm finally admitted' it had started really listening to users and acting on their feedback rather than paying lip service like so many vendors.

Microsoft's program of early low-cost pre-sales, high visibility marketing, and aggressive deals helped make the Windows 7 software launch successful.

"It's a pivotal turning point in Microsoft history," Microsoft's managing director Ashley Highfield said during the UK launch event. We listened and we listened and we got Windows 7."

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Popularity breeds adoption

The OS also followed in the wake of Microsoft's Windows Vista, which entered the market to more of more of a penny whistle playing quietly than a full-blown fanfare.

Statistics from NPD Group in early November 2009, just weeks after the launch suggested boxed copies of Windows 7 had outsold Vista by a whopping 234 per cent in the US, affirming that users really do vote with their feet, or in this case their choice of OS.

Microsoft also made 82 per more in revenue thanks to discounts and other tactics not employed during Vista's launch, the research firm said.

"Microsoft's program of early low-cost pre-sales, high visibility marketing, and aggressive deals helped make the Windows 7 software launch successful," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD.

"In a slow environment for packaged software Windows 7 brought a large number of customers into the software aisles."

There are many compelling reasons businesses would choose to run Windows 7. A Dimensional Research survey prior to the OS' launch in early 2009, suggested 80 per cent of IT professionals were planning a move to Windows 7 within six months. It also noted the traction that Windows XP had gained and how it boasted less than 40 per cent adoption even three years post-launch.

Improved performance, easier deployment and an enhanced user experience are just some of the benefits on offer with Windows 7. This is in addition to cost savings a Microsoft-commissioned IDC whitepaper Mitigating Risk: Why Sticking with Windows XP is a Bad Idea' published back in April 2012.

It costs $870 (554) annually to support a PC running Windows XP. However, it costs just $168 (107) a year to support a machine running Windows 7, according to the whitepaper. It's not hard, then, to see why many businesses are making the move.

Business benefits

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Airport operations giant BAA is already seeing the benefits of a Windows 7-based infrastructure. By combining Windows 7 desktop operating system and the Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack for Software Assurance (MDOP), in addition to in-built automated tools such as DirectAccess and Windows BitLocker, BAA is expecting to achieve a return on investment (ROI) of 102 per cent. Reduced costs and increased flexibility are the main drivers in this mammoth cost/benefit analysis.

With thousands of PC users spanning several bases, a move to Windows 7 was not a decision undertaken lightly, as you would expect.

Prior to the deployment in 2011, BAA aimed to move 90 per cent of its desktops to Windows 7 by September that year. "As we undertake work to change our IT infrastructure, we are beginning to see a very positive trend: Windows 7 and MDOP [Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack] will enable us to achieve more powerful PC management capabilities, while enhancing the business value that is important to us," Tim Matthew, head of IT architecture at BAA, said in a case study published on the Microsoft website. 

"Two important examples are more efficient and cost-effective IT support processes and flexible, remote computing capabilities that don't sacrifice security."

In addition to saving money, BAA hoped the migration would improve user satisfaction among its workers some 60 per cent and 40 per cent of whom are task and information workers respectively.

"Ultimately, it's about responsiveness. Our Windows 7 deployment, combined with the supporting infrastructure, will provide us with the technologies and tools that help our PC users to be more productive and our IT operations become more secure, agile, and efficient," added Philip Langsdale, BAA's CIO.

"For example, we look forward to expanding our Windows 7 environment to more desktops in the future. It's what we need to become a network of independent airports that satisfy our airline partners and travelers."

IT solutions and services provider Getronics was also able to significantly reduce its overheads and plan more effectively for the future thanks to Windows 7. It was somewhat of an early adopter, starting as it did on migration journey in 2009 with an evaluation.

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