Seven Things You Need to Know to Prepare for Windows 7 - Page 2

3. Windows XP to Windows 7 upgrades will be arduous. Enterprises will find that as a matter of licensing, they can upgrade from XP to Windows 7. But logistically, they cannot. Unless Microsoft changes policies between Beta 1 and the release candidate, Windows 7 installations won't allow upgrades from XP. IT organizations will have to back up data, wipe the hard drive, reimage the PC with Windows 7 and restore the data.

There are technical reasons, such as file system changes, for this logistical hardship. Any enterprise upgrading existing XP PCs will feel the pain. There are business reasons, too. For example, it's better for Microsoft and its PC manufacturer partners if businesses buy new computers rather than sticking with old ones.

4. Windows 7 is fast. The new operating system may be based on Vista, but the products share little in common when it comes to performance. Simply put, Windows 7 is speedy in all the ways that Vista isn't. That's an eWEEK evaluation based on Beta 1. Typically, because of debugging code and other development considerations, betas run more slowly than release software. If Windows 7 is fast now, the release candidate should be even better.

Microsoft fixed performance where users would notice it most, such as wake-up speed. In eWEEK testing on a Sony VAIO VGN-Z590 laptop, Windows 7 Beta 1 was ready to use, with wireless connected to the network and Outlook receiving e-mail, in less than 10 seconds from sleep mode. The laptop's configuration: 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 13.1-inch LED backlit display with 1600-by-900 resolution, 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS graphics, 3GB of DDR3 (double data rate 3) memory, 320GB hard drive, DVD burner, fingerprint reader, Wi-Fi and Sprint 3G modem.

Windows 7 also speedily switches between tasks. The frequent user interface pauses common with Vista are all but absent on Windows 7 Beta 1. The operating system handles smoothly while speeding without crashes. Many IT organizations and their end users will be satisfied with the performance improvements over XP or Vista.

Some IT organizations will be able to get more from existing PC investments. Windows 7 is the first Microsoft operating system that runs faster on existing hardware than its predecessor. Mac users have seen this kind of upgrade performance boost for years. PCs running XP or Vista but certified as "Windows Vista Ready" should seem faster running Windows 7.

5. Windows 7's UI is dramatically different from that of XP or Vista. IT organizations that balked at Vista UI changes may be even more shocked by Windows 7. But there is a difference: Many Vista UI changes seemed arbitrary, while they feel more purposeful in the newer Windows.

Based on four months of eWEEK testing, Windows 7 Beta 1 improves productivity. The new tool bar is more task-centric, and Microsoft has removed many distractions from the UI. The new Jump List and Libraries features help users get to applications they've used recently or stuff they need to find locally or across the network.

Organizations that have adopted Office 2007 will find many Windows 7 applications to be suddenly familiar. Microsoft has applied the "Ribbon" concept to applications such as Paint and WordPad. The UI synergies help improve the experience of using Office and Windows together.

Enterprises should prepare for the worst in terms of employee training and increased help desk calls. There, organizations going for Software Assurance can make use of training vouchers Microsoft provides as a benefit.