Windows 7: the untold story of how the enterprise gets snubbed

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A: The biggest thing that confused me is that there is a lot going on with virtualization in both the client and the server. The client and the sever can mount virtual machines … (Windows 7 and R2) … OK, that's neat, it makes it possible to do things like copy files in/out of a virtual machine live. But then there's this feature where R2 can boot from a virtual hard drive. What's the scenario here? The way the folks at Microsoft explained it to me is, imagine you are retail shop and  you need to run certain workloads virtualized so that during the holiday season you can increase capacity. The server can do that if it boots off the physical hardware. But I asked them what happens after the holidays, can users get back the capacity dedicated to the virtual hard drive? It turns out, no … so it's like a one-way switch. Maybe during the beta period, they will get feedback and fix it in next version. But for now, its just  weird functionality that no one is sure what the point of it is.

Also, as I said some of Windows 7 integration stuff was on the dubious side to me and I think it would be smart if Microsoft offered Direct Access and BitLocker on Vista, which would make it more inviting for enterprises to use them. DirectAccess will be a VPN killer.  It is so obvious when you see it that you ask, why didn't this happen before?  

Q: What can you say about management -- particularly for shops that don't use Microsoft for everything (i.e. -- they don't use System Center)?

A: One of the dumb things missing in Windows Server 2008 was there wasn't remote access to the server management tool, so they fixed that in R2 -- that was smart. But while Microsoft understands that their server products work in heterogeneous environments, they tend to rely on partners to do a lot of interoperability.

Q: Any last thoughts about Windows 7 for the enterprise, or even R2?

A: It is somewhat disappointing looking at the business perspective of Windows 7. The new OS is about consumers and generating excitement at the retail level –- which is not something that Microsoft has put a lot of focus on in a long time. Apple has a lot of market presence now and Microsoft wants to address that.

As for the server side, most of Microsoft's enterprise customers have software assurance, so they can get R2 at no cost.  Windows 7 is just a refinement on Vista. R2 is much more far reaching … and should be attractive to businesses.

 Windows 7 enterprise-specific features

Feature What it does Notes

DirectAccess

Connects mobile users to WS2008 without a VPN Requires Release 2 of WS2008 (in beta now)
BranchCache Caches files at the branch office for WAN optimization Requires WS2008 R2
Search Search across e-mail, the Web, SharePoint Can add Web sites available for search through Group Policy

BitLocker

Hard drive encryption Extended to cover USB devices
AppLocker Stops users from downloading unauthorized software Your users won't like you for implementing this one ...
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Run W7 as a virtual machine. Supports VoIP, local printing.
PowerShell A scripting language to automate tasks; includes a PowerShell troubleshooting tool Based on PowerShell 2.0
Internet Explorer 8 With SmartScreen filter for protecting against harmful Websites, InPrivate Browser Currently in beta
Windows Live Essentials Access to download cloud applications instead of loading up the OS with junk. Includes Outlook Connector, Office Live Connector, IM, Mail, blogger, photo gallery, movie maker
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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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