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John Ritter, IT manager in the School of Business at the University of Vermont, says the school is actively testing Windows 7 in its lab.
"We want to leverage XP Mode for a financial services app we have that doesn't run on Vista," he says, noting that Windows 7 solves a need the school has now.
Ritter says the department has a high tolerance for trying new technology, but that attitude doesn't eliminate strategy.
There are also plans to roll out Windows Server 2008 R2 to take advantage of new group policy features that will help with power management and cost cutting. And he says Exchange 2010 is under the microscope because users won't have a migration option and will be forced to do more difficult upgrades when moving from Exchange 2007.
The same issue was on the top of the list for another IT manager from a state government agency who asked that his name not be used.
"We are going to have to carefully plan out the upgrade because we don't have any budget to get another machine, which we would need," he says.
Clearly, with all the software released by Microsoft in the next year, choices will have to be made and the clearest indication of what those choices are could come in July when Microsoft reports its earnings, including the depth of corporate renewals on Enterprise Agreement (EA) contracts. Those volume licensing agreements run for three years and give users licenses for software, most notably Windows and Office. And a significant portion of those contracts historically expire in Microsoft's fiscal fourth (April to June).
With Windows 7 shipping in the next seven months, volume-licensing customers will likely renew EA contracts, which would give users the rights to the new client operating system.
In addition, generally favorable user reviews coming out of TechEd on Windows Server 2008 R2 could lead companies to cover Core Client Access Licenses on their EA contracts. With those client access rights, users would be inclined to look at the new version of Exchange and SharePoint Server 2010.
The results could either be a perfect storm for Microsoft with major product releases carefully planned to coincide with an important milestone in the IT buyer's upgrade cycle, or a roar that falls on nearly deaf ears and severely deflated corporate wallets.
Follow John on Twitter: twitter.com/johnfontana
Read more about software in Network World's Software section.