Live from PDC 2008: A First Look at Windows 7
We’re here at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles, where Microsoft has taken the wraps off the latest client operating system, Windows® 7. The first thing to note is that this is a pre-beta release, and is still an early first-look. While most information out there will focus on how Windows 7 makes everyday tasks easier with improved user experience and productivity scenarios for end users, we thought we’d focus on some first-look information specifically of interest to IT professionals. In this blog, we’ll be regularly posting on the challenges and opportunities of upgrading to a modern desktop or laptop client OS with Windows Vista® today, and Windows 7 as more information becomes available through the development lifecycle.
To begin with, the core architecture of Windows 7 remains the same, as it is built on the same foundation as Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. Our goal is that the majority of applications and devices that work with Windows Vista will work with Windows 7. This is important if you are evaluating or deploying Windows Vista today; in fact, investments in adopting Windows Vista (testing piloting, deploying) will pay off in a smoother transition to Windows 7 when it becomes available.
In designing Windows 7, the engineering team had a clear focus on what we call ‘the fundamentals'—performance, application compatibility, device compatibility, reliability, security and battery life. This effort was aided by telemetry data on how PCs are being used and issues that resulted in poor performance or disruption. The focus on fundamentals didn’t start with Windows 7; in fact it is the continuation of the work on Windows Vista that materialized in SP1.
So on to the Windows 7 highlights for IT professionals:
With Windows Vista we added significantly more parameters that are manageable with Group Policy, such as configuration and control over Power settings; with Windows 7 we are now extending the reach of what Group Policy can manage, and how settings are applied to specific users or computers, including non-GP aware components.
Updating mobile PCs that spend most of their time off the network is a particularly challenging issue for IT organizations. Windows 7 will introduce DirectAccess, a capability that allows IT to manage and update internet-connected remote PCs, even when they are off the corporate network, while giving mobile users seamless secure connectivity to the corporate resources from the road without having to initiate VPN connection. Also for IT pros, the new Powershell v2 and its graphical editor help automate repetitive tasks with minimal scripting expertise required.
Security and Compliance
Windows Vista improved manageability and security, in particular, by limiting changes to the system without administrative credentials and making it easier to adopt the standard user mode. The introduction of BitLocker® Drive Encryption in Windows Vista, and the extension of this protection to non-boot volumes in SP1 provided the protection of confidential data required in many industries.
Windows 7 builds on these advancements with customizable User Account Control (UAC) that allows IT pros to “tune” the feature based on their environment. For data protection, Windows 7 introduces BitLocker To Go, extending encryption to removable drives. This feature gives greater control over information leaving the corporation, as well as protecting lost or stolen USB drives. Windows 7 also allows IT to control access to specific applications by specific users, but we’ll cover these in more detail in future blog posts.
Windows Vista delivered significant deployment improvements based on Windows Imaging Format (WIM) that allows a hardware and language-independent image to be created and deployed. In many instances, a single image could be deployed and maintained worldwide, providing a more predictable environment. Several new tools, including the Microsoft® Deployment Toolkit, the Application Compatibility Toolkit, and Microsoft Assessment and Planning toolkit helped streamline the planning, testing and deployment of a large-scale deployment.
In Windows 7, image creation and deployment is enhanced with advances such as Dynamic Driver provisioning, the Deployment Image Service and Management tool, Multicast Multiple Stream Transfer, and improvements to user state migration. We’ll go into further detail in future blog posts, so check back frequently.
In conclusion, Windows 7 promises advancements in manageability, security, deployment and end user productivity. Does this mean you should wait or skip Windows Vista? The fact is that you can get the many of the advantages today in Windows Vista. Much progress has been made with Windows Vista SP1 and a maturing ecosystem, and this progress continues with Windows 7.
If your organization hasn’t begun looking seriously at Windows Vista, or if you evaluated Windows Vista prior to SP1, it now makes sense to re-evaluate—both to benefit from more advanced PC environment, and to get ahead of the adoption curve for Windows 7.
To learn more about Windows 7, Windows Vista or any of the Windows Client technologies, please visit www.microsoft.com/springboard for the latest in information, guidance and community connections.