Yesterday, I gave my recommendations about Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud-computing platform. Today, I want to talk about another product unveiled at the same Microsoft conference - Windows 7, the successor to Windows Vista. This first public demonstration of Windows 7 focused heavily on its touch-screen elements, and showed how older software can be touch-enabled without having to be rewritten, among other features. If you'd like more details, fellow IT Business Edge blogger Rob Enderle has put together a nice summary of the various facets of the new operating system in his Windows 7 first impressions post.
So what are the implications of Windows 7 for the SMB, with its projected release date of 2010?
I thought Al Gillen, an IDC analyst, summed it up pretty neatly: "The best way to think of Windows 7 is to look at it as an improved version of Windows Vista. It starts with a Windows Vista foundation, but what it does from there is add some extra functionality."
The genesis for the above statement probably comes from the fact that Windows 7 will use the same device driver model as Windows Vista, as well as building on its user interface changes. As such, it makes sense for SMBs to start planning a migration over to Windows Vista if they have not already done so.
Waiting for Windows 7 should not be an option because Microsoft does not have a good record of releasing its operating systems on time. So unless your organization enjoys being on the "bleeding" edge of new software deployments, a realistic estimate will see a Windows 7 deployment only in the region of 2011, or maybe even 2012. Lending weight to migrating to Vista is the fact that channels to acquire licenses for Windows XP are drying up. Already, Windows XP can only be acquired via convoluted license downgrading schemes or by purchasing low-powered netbooks.
From a programming point of view, I also expect applications optimized for Windows Vista to see a lesser need for changes, if any at all, when the time comes to switch to Windows 7, so why not just bite the bullet now. Indeed, every software vendor is putting efforts into developing for Vista by now, so getting Vista-compatible software is no longer an issue.
And last but not least, you'll get users acclimatized to the Vista interface, where they will be able to switch easily to Windows 7 when the time comes.
So folks, I'll say this: It's time to move on to Vista.