Enterprises Find Windows 7 Features Compelling
Tell us more about the new features in Windows 7 for enterprise customers.
One of the key features in Windows 7 is DirectAccess, which eliminates the need to have third party VPN software. This feature creates the VPN tunnel connection to the user’s corporate network validates the user and enables the users to access all his corporate resources anytime, anywhere. Additionally when the user is connected to the corporate network his or her computer becomes manageable. The corporate system administrator can install the latest patches, update it, check policy settings, take backup of your data and so on. With DirectAccess you do not require to have third party VPN software, this itself saves you approximately Rs. 800-1000 per computer.
Another important feature in Windows 7 for enterprises is BitLocker To Go, which enables you to encrypt USB drives and put a password to it, so that even if your USB drive is stolen your data will not be lost. Additonally by using group policy you can only allow an encrypted USB drive to be used to copy data. In such a case if a user plugs a USB drive in a laptop, he will not be able to copy a file to that USB drive if it is not encrypted.
AppLocker is another important feature in Windows 7. Traditionally if a user had administrator privileges on his computer, he could install any applications, change security settings etc. In such a scenario the function of AppLocker is to restrict the user’s administrative privileges as per the group policy assigned to the user. So even if the user has a particular application installed on his computer he will only be able to run it if system administrator has approved it.
This feature enables companies to have a much tighter control on which applications can be run in the corporate environment and keep an inventory of the applications that are used within the organization.
Federated Search is yet another important feature in Windows 7. Today most of our enterprise customers receive 100 - 200 emails per day, which keeps accumulating. So with the regular Search feature you can find emails based on keywords, author etc. However with Federated Search you can now not only search for mails within your own computer but can also search within various servers and applications that are there in your corporate network. For instance a developer can have a search connector for MSDN. So when he searches for something on his machine locally he can also search the MSDN network.
What are the challenges a company might face if they introduce Windows 7 in their corporate environment which already have older version of Windows running?
Microsoft provides management tools to manage such a heterogeneous environment seamlessly. For instance Microsoft System Center allows corporates to manage an environment consisting of XP, Vista, 7, Linux and even virtual machines. Most organizations would shift to Windows 7 from Windows XP or Vista in a phased manner, and Microsoft provides a number of free deployment tools for this purpose.
Additionally, using Microsoft Windows Deployment Services, organizations can setup a deployment server, which will automatically take an image backup of the specified computers, load the Windows 7 image onto these machines and load the data back.
Could you tell us more about the XP Mode feature in Windows 7?
When a large enterprise rolls out a new OS, one of the most critical requirements is that all their applications have to be compatible with the new OS. So in the last year or so we have worked with many (Independent software vendors) ISVs, such as SAP, Adobe, Symantec, McAfee, Tally, Finacle from Infosys etc to make sure that most applications are compatible with Windows 7. However enterprises might still be using older applications, which might not run on Windows 7 by default. To address this issue we have provided XP mode in Windows 7 Professional edition. It’s basically a free copy of XP which you can open in a virtual environment, within Windows 7. XP mode can be used just like any other application on Windows 7. So XP mode eliminates the last barrier that exists for enterprises while they migrate from Windows XP to Windows 7.
Windows Vista did not go down well with users. How do you plan to convince users to migrate to Windows 7?
We did get a lot of negative feedback during the early days of Vista, however we fixed a lot of the issues with Service Pack 1 (SP1). As a result people using Vista with SP1 are fairly satisfied with the OS. Having said that, Windows 7 offers users a number of new capabilities such as DirectAccess, BitLocker To Go, AppLocker etc. Many organizations find these features compelling, and hence want to migrate to Windows 7. Additionally Windows 7 works perfectly well on hardware that was shipped out in the last 3-4 years. As a result there would be practically no hardware cost involved when an enterprise migrates from Vista to Windows 7.
Also many of our enterprise customers are covered under Microsoft Software Assurance, by which these customers can migrate from Vista to Windows 7 at no extra cost. The only cost involved for such customers is the migration cost, which involves testing and physically doing the migration. Here too Microsoft offers free tools to make the migration process easier for customers.
Could you name a few companies who have already migrated to Windows 7?
Many companies have migrated to Windows 7, some of which include, Maruti Suzuki, Larsen & Toubro, NIIT, Bengaluru International Airport, Infosys, Wipro, Mahindra Holidays, Mahindra & Mahindra, National Stock Exchange. Overall there are more than 1600 hundred companies that run Windows 7 today.
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