There has been a lot of hype about Windows 7 in the media since its release about 5 months ago reinforced by a heavy television ad campaign by Microsoft (at least this time they didn’t opt for Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates spitting nonsense). As a Windows fanatic I am thrilled with the praise it has received for the most part (there will always be haters), but it has at least been deemed a great improvement over its predecessor Vista. For the first time ever in Microsoft OS history does a newer platform take up less resources than the previous one. Windows 7 may be the best option for personal use if you are a Windows user, and any system package you buy retail will now come with it, but is it ready to be put in the business setting just yet?
I have been waiting to read an article like the one I found last night that outlines the pros and cons of upgrading to Windows 7 in the business setting, because I haven’t been able to play with it too much first hand. The need to upgrade mostly depends on the current setup in your business and if you could really take advantage of these new features 7 offers and at what cost. A few advantages the article points out for upgrading to Windows 7 that would be applicable to a business network are DirectAccess, BitLocker, Applocker, and superb driver support compared to previous versions. My favorite feature of them all is the DirectAccess, which functions very similarly to how it sounds, it gives you a secure tunnel to your business network via IPSec and IPv6 without having to configure a VPN connection. BitLocker is a new program that encrypts the contents of your hard drive, just like FileVault seen in Mac OS X Panther and later. Applocker is an awesome administrative tool that effectively regulates which programs can be executed on a machine. Finally, 7 has new and improved driver support which aids in assigning drivers and will even redirect you to the manufacturers driver page if needed.
Some of the main disadvantages when upgrading to Windows 7 in the business setting would be cost in hardware changes, having to clean install vs. a true upgrade (from XP), the time it takes for your employees to adjust, and of course the little bugs that haven’t quite been worked out yet 100%. I actually found that hard to believe that you really can’t run an upgrade from an XP machine, and I am a little disappointed with that. It wouldn’t be a big deal to salvage all of the data on your XP machines, but being able to transfer the applications they are running is a different story. Also, XP will continue to be updated by Microsoft until the year 2014, so there isn’t a rush necessarily unless you really want to take advantage of the new features.
Bottom line is that there is no definitive answer on whether its a good idea to switch just yet because once again, it will vary between different companies, but weighing some of these factors will help you decide whether it would be worth it or not with your current setup.