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Tech-Ed: Windows 7 Migration Wave Hits Vendors

It's only a matter of time before most companies make the move to Windows 7, especially with XP losing support in a few years. Luckily, they'll have some help.

Seattle-based Prowess Consulting and U.K. company ChangeBASE are two vendors at this week's Tech-Ed conference in Atlanta that are touting their expertise in helping companies migrate to Microsoft's latest operating system. Prowess makes applications that deploy what some might consider more traditional OSes, from Windows 7 to Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. The company this week announced enhancements to its flagship SmartDeploy product.

Meanwhile, ChangeBASE, which announced this week enhancements to its free AOKLite v2.0 product, tests for application compatibility and remedies potential app problems with OS migrations.

While the two companies' products don't often garner big headlines, they're arguably the bread and butter of corporate IT infrastructures.

Here for the Long Haul
It's no longer misguided to wonder how long the fat-client, desktop OS has to live. Virtualization and cloud computing, along with the appearance of lightweight OSes such as Google's Chrome OS, seem to have Windows down for the count. Chances are, though, it'll be a long count.

Aaron Suzuki, Prowess' co-founder and CEO, doesn't see clients lining up to move to Windows 7. Many will stick with XP, he says, and just pay extra for support when Microsoft finally kills XP support in 2014. "I don't think it makes Microsoft very happy or comfortable," Suzuki said at Tech-Ed this week, "but that's the client mentality. People don't have a reason not to deploy [Windows 7], but there are also some barriers. It's not about the software costs. It's about running their business. You don't buy Windows just to be able to have Windows."

The next question is whether companies will buy Windows again at all, but Suzuki suspects that they will -- in time. And, he says, they'll keep buying it for a while to come. Even hypervisors still rest on a traditional OS, he opines.

"We are very bullish on desktop virtualization," Suzuki said. However, he added, "Something has to get a hypervisor there. It's like a key. It has to fit properly for the operating environment to land on whatever it's landing on. The ability to move operating systems from environment to environment [is critical]. I don't know anyone who is in a homogenous environment."

The desktop OS, he figures, isn't going away anytime soon. "That no-operating-system thing is a 30- to 50-year proposition," he said. "Even in that picture of a highly virtualized desktop, that virtual machine has to get from place to place and the hypervisor on the workstation is probably not going to be identical to the hypervisor in your datacenter."

Moving Apps Forward
If the traditional OS is going to continue to exist, then applications are going to have to move in the migration from one version to another. ChangeBASE has users covered there. The vendor has developed a system for identifying and remedying potential problems with applications in OS migrations.

ChangeBASE's software looks not so much at what applications do as at how they behave with an OS and with each other. Using a knowledge base developed through years of experience, ChangeBASE can reduce the process of testing for and fixing application-compatibility issues from days or weeks to minutes, said Greg Lambert, the company's chief technical architect, at Tech-Ed this week.

"We deal with classes of problems," Lambert said. "We don't deal with applications. [We] ignore the application and look at behaviors. Is this application trying to install to this directory, yes or no? It's like an anti-virus model. There are new updates available."

Solving problems with application compatibility could be a critical step in helping companies move from XP to Windows 7. Lambert says he's seeing movement already, primarily from the companies with the most money and the most risk inherent in their businesses, such as banks. He says he's also seeing a geographical track for Windows 7, starting in the U.K. financial sector and moving to the financial sector on the U.S. east coast, then to the U.S. west coast, Asia and Europe.

"I'm actually seeing the dawn of Windows 7 move across the world," Lambert said.

About the Author

Lee Pender is the executive features editor of Redmond magazine. You can reach him at lpender@redmondmag.com or follow him on Twitter.

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Reader Comments:

Mon, May 23, 2011 CarlS

QUOTE: The only reason 7 is overtaking XP is because they are forcing people to use it. ENDQUOTE B. S. ! It's simply a better O/S. Could it be better still? Of course, but it's not "one giant step ...". And who twisted anyone's arm to make them use Windows? I personally use Win7, Linux (3 variants), Unix, and (still after all these years) "de-virus" Apple products every so often. Windows, too, but now, with Win7, not quite so much.

Sun, May 22, 2011 Anonymous

IPv6 on XP is no problem. Just type "ipv6 install" at the cmd prompt. If you have your router properly configured, there's nothing to "set up". Stateless autoconfiguration is auto enabled for local and global addresses.

Fri, May 20, 2011 Dan Iowa

"The no-operating system thing", was just a marketing gimic for some thin clients some years ago. Those of us that thought it would save us from having to maintain an OS, just learned that we simply changed the OS to another OS. If you start calling the OS "firmware", it is still an OS, and you still have to maintain it. The day we get to a no-OS device is the day we've discovered disposable PCs. We'll put them in the landfill once every few months, and replace with a new one because the OS essentially embedded in the hardware. Doesn't sound good to me.

Fri, May 20, 2011 Dan Iowa

I run Windows 7, and I would not go back to XP if you paid me the entire price of Windows the Windows 7 and gave me free support. It simply doesn't make sense for anyone to try to hang on to a dying OS. (It isn't that the OS was bad. It just has flaws that cause its value to go down over time.) Try getting IPv6 to work well on XP. If the rest of the world is moving to IPv6, what good is deploying a computer with XP? (Not that IPv6 is the reason to switch. It just illustrates a point.)

Wed, May 18, 2011 Anonymous

The only reason 7 is overtaking XP is because they are forcing people to use it. All new PC's are preinstalled with it. Vista and 7 are flawed Operating systems from a user standpoint. They are too restrictive, annoying, and change too much of the GUI that has been standard since 95. You are forced to evolve or your PC eventually dies because of lack of security updates. Just because you buy shiny new things the moment they show up doesn't mean everything old is worse.

It's marketing in action. They sell "set of features" now, not innovations, as one may expect. Some features are added, while others are purposely removed. So, in the next version of Windows OS they could offer you them back and loudly pitch about that, while silently removing others, preserving them for future versions of that OS. Remember, Windows OS is made as a product to bring revenue, not as an OS, that brings the latest and the greatest technology to its users. That explains why they remove all those useful features.
Windows 7 is just like Vista rehashed. There are many good useful features of XP removed and broken. Poor usability. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_features_removed_in_Windows_7 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_features_removed_in_Windows_Vista . Unnecessary GUI changes. Vista was innonative but horrible usability wise and removed things. Windows 7 is Vista with few new features and again many features removed.

Here is how it works. When designing any software, they purposefully put some new defects and/or leave basic essential features out. Then a couple of years later, they come up with a "new version" in which some of those left out features are put back in. This "upgrade" or new version is, however, secretly damaged in other ways and, in reality, is really a degrade. A few years later, another "new version" comes out claiming to fix those problems--and it does, but destroys something else in the previous version that was working.

Vista and Windows 7 were, as if, built by a madman who takes a normal car (XP), smashes the dashboard and puts a shiny plate to cover it up, puts the brake pedal in the trunk and the gas pedal under the back seat and the steering behind. This "upgrade" racket makes you go round and round in circles, spending money thinking it is a real "upgrade", when, in fact, each "upgrade" is really a circular downgrade. It is a shame that Bill Gates, already so rich, would resort to such fraud and racketeering. Microsoft needs to be sued.

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