New Features Could Drive Tech Refresh in Academic World

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2009-10-05 Print this article Print


There are some new features in Windows 7 that could drive a tech refresh in the academic world.

Jeff Dozier, a professor of environmental science and management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told eWEEK that Windows 7's improved start-up and especially its 64-bit capabilities are increasingly important within his enterprise.

 "I run MATLAB," Dozier said, referring to a fourth-generation computing language, "and sometimes memory is limited with 32-bit version."

In addition to allowing his organization to run a 64-bit version of MATLAB and SQL Server Express, Dozier sees Windows 7 as offering several other key features, including granular user-account control. "For my normal account on my laptop, I can make it a Standard account and have the option to provide a password when I need Admin features."

 Windows 7's Libraries feature is also appealing to Dozier.

 "My logical organization of folders and files need not correspond to the physical organization," said Dozier, who tested the new operating system after the Release Candidate 2 was released. "I synch with a set of folders on the file system where I work."

While he plans a move to Windows 7, Dozier said he liked Vista and isn't sure why it was so widely derided.

 "I'm not sure why Vista was so maligned," Dozier said. "I find that I adapt to new features and UIs pretty easily-- although then I sometimes forget about old versions when people ask me for help. In Vista I found the Synchronization feature to be improved over XP's."

 SMBs are in the same position as the enterprise and academic institutions for a tech refresh; but with the economy continuing to squeeze IT budgets, they may find themselves reluctant to engage in a system upgrade that includes Windows 7.

 "Most of the offices I know are now using XP," said Judith Freed, an office manager for a small periodontal office in Los Angeles. "When their dental programs come up with a new version that needs a new OS, they will go with what is supported, be it Vista or [Windows 7]." However, "using new software means staff downtime for training and confusion for a while as staff learns, so no one is very eager."

In her experience, Freed said, Vista was a relatively secure operating system.

 "I put all the computers I am responsible for behind both software and hardware firewalls and experiment with various anti-virus and anti-spam products," she said. "I have rarely had a problem, and the few times that a user has opened something up and let the devil loose, it is usually just on that computer and up until now has been caught."

 Freed said she plans to wait before refreshing her systems with Windows 7, which she had been reading about but not yet tested: "I will wait a bit and let others catch all the bugs and problems, then get a new computer with it loaded. I will probably opt for Pro."

Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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