Microsoft Promoting Windows 7 for the Enterprise

Microsoft on Wednesday explained how the needs of enterprise users were considered in the early design stages of its new Windows 7 operating system.

Microsoft on Wednesday explained how the needs of enterprise users were considered in the early design stages of its new Windows 7 operating system. A blog post by Gavriella Schuster, senior director of Windows product management, described Microsoft's "behind the scenes" rationales.

The OS is currently being tested at the beta stage, and Microsoft has already received "over 5,000 Send Feedback reports" from beta testers, Schuster wrote.

Microsoft engaged its partners early in the design stage of Windows 7 and polled 4,000 customers on such areas as "risk management, compliance and mobility," Schuster explained. The respondents said they wanted three features in the new OS: help protecting data on corporate laptops (56 percent); control over user installs (61 percent); and support for remote worker access to the corporate network (49 percent).

In response, the Windows 7 team added BitLocker protection for laptops and portable hard drives. They added AppLocker to Windows 7 to lock down installs. To enable remote access, they included plans to support Direct Access capabilities in Windows 7, Schuster wrote.

Veteran Microsoft watcher Mary-Jo Foley contradicted this view that Windows 7 includes many features for the enterprise. She suggested that most of the features in the beta were consumer oriented. A NetworkWorld article took a different tack and claimed that Microsoft has already briefed analysts on useful features in the Windows 7 Enterprise edition.

Schuster's blog post stays true to slow information-release concept championed by the Engineering Windows 7 blog. That blog took the view early on that Microsoft should be honest but still not release too much information about its new OS. The idea was to avoid misleading Microsoft's partners on the direction of the OS -- a problem that ostensibly tripped up the release of Windows Vista.

An Engineering Windows 7 post on Tuesday described Microsoft's efforts to test applications for compatibility with Windows 7. Microsoft officials have made the general claim that applications that work with Windows Vista will also work with Windows 7. However, the blog added a caveat to that contention.

"We do have to be careful about making this claim to be universal because there is a class of applications that are always updated in tandem with a new Windows release," the blog explained. "These applications are primarily system utilities, diagnostics, and security software -- the common thread is that they make assumptions about the underlying implementation of Windows internals and thus require updates."

In response, Microsoft has engaged closely with independent software vendors to iron out the kinks, according to the blog.

Vista has been viewed by some enterprise IT departments as an expensive upgrade that lacked additional utility over Windows XP. A Forrester Research study found that Vista had been deployed by just 10 percent of enterprises surveyed nearly two years after its release.

A common complaint against Vista was that hardware upgrades were needed to run Vista's glitzy Aero graphical user interface. However, Microsoft now appears to be bending over backwards in its communications to assure that Windows 7 won't get the same frosty reception as Vista got in the enterprise. The Windows 7 OS is said to have a lighter footprint than Windows Vista, with the possibility of running on low-tech netbooks -- something that Vista can't do for the most part.

Schuster emphasized that Microsoft understands that IT departments are facing tough decisions in a bad economy.

"To summarize, customers tell us the economy is bringing new levels of scrutiny to how they manage costs, mitigate risks and make their people more productive with less. We get it," she wrote.

However, the down economy ultimately may be an inhibiting factor to Windows 7 sales. Chris Liddell, Microsoft's senior vice president and chief financial officer, told financial analysts last week that macroeconomic conditions would be the ultimate determining factor for sales of Windows 7 and new PCs.

Windows 7 is scheduled for general public release in early 2010, but a rumor has suggested it could be released in the third quarter of this year. Meanwhile, Liddell has predicted that the economic downturn could last for another two years.

Apparently a new version of Windows 7 is now showing up on BitTorrent sites. A article claims to have spotted a leaked version of the Windows 7 Beta, which it described as Build "7048." Microsoft had initially released the Windows 7 Beta as Build 7000.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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