6. Every organization looking at Windows 7 should test Office 2010, too. Microsoft revealed April 15 that the next version of its productivity suite will be called Office 2010. A "technical preview" is expected sometime in third quarter. Exchange Server 2010 Beta 2 became available April 14.
Microsoft released Office 2007 and Vista on the same day, but there was very little synergy between the products. Also, businesses embraced Office 2007 even as they scoffed at Vista. Now their successors appear to be on separate release tracks, with Windows 7 expected more than six months ahead of Office 2010. Interestingly, right now, Windows 7's release to manufacturing and the Office 2010 technical preview are tracking for availability at about the same time.
Many enterprises will wait 12 months before beginning Windows 7 deployments, which is still enough for Office 2010 to be released later but deployed simultaneously. For most organizations, the operating system would require more testing and application certification than the productivity suite. The aforementioned UI similarities and yet-to-be-disclosed synergistic features are reason enough for enterprises moving from XP and Office 2000 or 2003 to simultaneously deploy Office 2010 and Windows 7 on new PCs.
7. Windows 7 is better suited to enterprise security than either XP or Vista. For companies willing to bite the Software Assurance bullet, Windows 7 Enterprise offers AppLocker, BitLocker To Go and DirectAccess as valuable security enticements.
AppLocker gives IT organizations more granular control over application installations and which scripts can run. Many employees use the same computers for personal and professional purposes, which increases the risk of malware infections from installed software or children accessing file-sharing sites.
BitLocker To Go lets enterprises lock down USB storage devices, which can prevent the copying of unauthorized data or data loss should the drive be lost or stolen.
DirectAccess uses IPv6-over-IPSec (IP Security) tunneling to create a constant corporate network connection. The feature also requires Windows Server 2008 R2. DirectAccess "promises to streamline the remote management of PCs for IT because users will be more constantly connected and available for security patches and software updates," Gray wrote. The feature also negates the need for a VPN client, or so Microsoft claims.
Windows 7 isn't a choice. It's an inevitable destination for most enterprises. These seven things are just among the many factors IT organizations should consider as they map out their path for getting from XP or Vista to Windows 7.
Joe Wilcox is editor of Microsoft Watch.