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Reflections on Windows 7 Launch

Article by Rob West

As my esteemed colleague Jorge points out, it has been a busy summer (and now autumn) for us on this team, and as such, our posting frequency has not been, shall we say, “optimized.”

I’ve been on the road a bit, and speaking at a number of Windows 7 Launch events, where I get the opportunity to speak to groups of IT Pros on the features and benefits of Windows 7. That, in itself, should be cause enough to celebrate my good fortune. But, because I’m a creature of habit, I cannot let these opportunities go by without extolling the virtues of my favorite topic: optimization.

And let me begin (again) by saying the reaction to the enterprise features of Win 7 is overwhelmingly positive. I can’t remember the last time I felt such a crackle in the air (or saw so many full houses!) over an operating system. But once the shine of the OS that will displace XP and bring us all to a fighting stance with those increasingly strident (and – some would argue – inaccurate) commercials coming out of Cupertino is absorbed, we get the chance to get down to brass tacks: what will this do for me, my department, and my company?

The answer, it would seem, is at once simple, and rather complex. Folks in the IT world are facing tough challenges today. The usual ones: shrinking budgets, constrained resources, fewer headcount, etc. But also a host of new ones: XP’s looming end-of-life, virtualization opportunities – there to be missed, and new modes of delivering data and services to end users – both on premise and in the cloud.

IT Pros are sizing up Windows 7 and wondering if it is time to approach their management (or, more likely these days, their CFO) with the proposition that it’s time to bring the workforce into the 21st century. Microsoft touts this, with the broad brush of marketing, as “The New Efficiency” and is poised for a barrage of new releases that threatens to make our jobs easier (or at least destroy those few places of refuge where we don’t do any work ;-).

Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 are just the beginning, and the IO folks among us know that these great releases are simply a foundation, and that one must, as a forward-thinking, new-world-of-work adherent consider the benefits of unifying their communication, virtualizing their workloads, and creating a user-centric infrastructure of people-focused data and services, while at the same time perpetually seeking ways to lower costs and improve efficiency not only in the workforce, but among IT staffers.

You’ve seen through my ruse, naturally, and will immediately identify my larger project – one that I put forth at my speaking engagements. The Microsoft stack offers a ton of “synergetic value” (take that, search engines) in the simple act of combining products that work well together and evoke new paradigms for how we work. I promise you: I”m not just a shill for Redmond. I’m a believer – I’ve seen the benefits of zero-touch image deployments of Windows 7 that leverage the easy application delivery that App-V provides. I’ve seen the look of relief on the faces of administrators who feared SMS, but now love SCCM. IT leaders love the word “free” and as such, are starting to realize that a hypervisor is a hypervisor, but a free hypervisor is good business. The list goes on.

So what does this all have to do with my Win 7 Launch engagements? A lot, actually. I wrote earlier that IT Pros are excited about Win 7, but that once that excitement dies down, they want to get into some pretty deep technical discussions about how to deploy it, how to leverage MDOP, and how to watch it all carefully with System Center.

A quick show of hands at these events – something that surprised me – was that 90% of the folks in attendance were already running some version of Win 7, and many were actively experimenting with Office 2010. These folks came not to hear about how great 7 is, but to hear best practices for making it freaking HAPPEN at their company.

That’s when my excitement stirs. I can get past the PowerPoint and Pastries part of the day, and get my hands on the whiteboard, where I can draw a vision of the future NOW.

And that’s why I get up in the morning, put on pants I don’t really like, heft my two laptops onto a plane, and stand in front of my colleagues and speak. Almost nothing makes me as happy as watching a room full of smart folks stop working on their laptops and start asking the more difficult, off-slide questions.

I hope I’ll see you out there, and that our conversations prevent me from ever getting to that last slide.

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