Australia’s Windows 7 love affair turns steamy


news It might have taken a few years for Australia to shift into gear when it comes to Windows 7, but evidence is growing that the nation’s initial flirtation with the platform is rapidly accelerating into a full-blown romance.

A substantial new piece of evidence for the idea that Australian organisations are increasingly adopting the software has arrived over the past few weeks, with new research published by systems integrator Dimension Data being published in the area. The research took the form of a survey which DiData commissioned analyst firm Forrester to carry out on some 546 organisations located both in Australia and overseas. The findings from the report primarily focused on the increasing global trend towards desktop virtualisation, but also generated a number of data points around local adoption of Windows 7.

According to Forrester, some 12 percent of the Australian organisations surveyed in the report said they had already completed their enterprise-wide migrations to Windows 7. A further 46 percent said they had begun “aggressive” efforts to migrate to Windows 7, with another 26 percent planning to kick off deployment within the next year.

Of the total sample, about 46.6 percent of Australian organisations still maintained installations of Microsoft’s most popular legacy operating system, Windows XP, while about 10.7 percent supported Vista. It appears that about 29.9 percent of organisations had some Windows 7 installations being supported in-house.

The data reflects a growing body of anecdotal evidence that appears to show organisations around Australia rapidly adopting Windows 7.

One of the largest migrations nationally is expected to be the Federal Department of Human Services, the new super-department created by the merger of Centrelink, Medicare and a number of other government bodies such as the Child Support Agency. Centrelink was already planning to implement Windows 7, and the platform looks like it will become standard across the entire department – eventually affecting some 55,000 users.

The desktop platform is also being deployed in other Federal Government agencies such as the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, which is currently enmeshed in a widespread rollout and the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

In the education sector, Windows 7 deployments are also gradually being revealed, with names such as the University of Canberra, the University of Southern Queensland, La Trobe University, Brisbane Girls Grammar, St Leonard’s College in Melbourne, the Victorian Department of Education and more deploying the software.

In the private sector deployments are less well-known, but companies such as Perth-based fabrication, construction and services company AGC are known to have deployed the technology, as well as Toyota Australia and MYOB, and giants such as Woolworths have said they are investigating rollouts themselves.

The rapidity of the rollout of Windows 7 in Australia comes in contrast to that of its predecessor, Window Vista, which was broadly ignored by Australian organisations, with the exception of several Federal Government departments. Hence, most of the known Windows 7 migrations consist of upgrades from Windows XP. Similarly, no organisations are known to have yet expressed an interest in deploying Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows 8 platform, which was recently released to developers in an early preview form.

According to the Dimension Data research, some organisations are prioritising desktop and application virtualisation programs over Windows 7 migrations, while others are linking the two separate initiatives into overarching programs.

“Many of our clients are grappling with complex issues relating to their applications ecosystems,” said DiData chief technology officer Ettienne Reinecke. “And while the research indicates that the major drivers behind desktop virtualisation are cost reduction and security, 47% of participants said that they recognised that applications virtualisation will help them to migrate to Windows 7.”

Some companies have even preferred to switch to Apple’s Mac platform, especially for the robustness of its laptop hardware, while continuing to run Windows XP and investigating virtualisation. This was the approach taken by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, for example, in its recent shift to a next-generation working space based in Sydney’s Darling Park complex.

Having used Windows XP, Vista and 7 extensively over the years, as well as Apple’s Max OS X and various flavours of Unix, it has been my personal experience that the greatest productivity improvements in my information-rich workflow came about when I implemented Windows 7 on the desktop, complete with multiple large monitors.

The platform is just much, much more stable and fast than either Windows XP or Vista when it comes to running lots of applications simultaneously and using your PC for communicating via email, unified communications, instant messaging and so on.

With this in mind, I would encourage all Australian organisations currently using legacy XP or Vista on its PCs and laptops to upgrade to Windows 7 as soon as possible. With excellent deals in the education sector, and whole of government deals bringing down the price in the public sector, it’s more affordable than ever these days, and your organisation’s staff will thank you profusely. It’s also the right time for it — Windows 7 is a stable platform now, while Windows 8 is too far away and unclear to be a realistic deployment target.

The cost of a couple of large monitors, a modern PC and Windows 7 is quite modest compared to any worker’s annual salary, and you’ll get much more out of your staff. Of course, you’ll need to take a number of other factors into account – migration plans, application compatibility and so on – but much of that can be resolved these days by automated deployment tools and virtualisation software. I’ve yet to find a company which has had many problems with upgrading to Windows 7 internally – Microsoft has made this fairly painless.

As I’ve previously written, I’m not yet sure where desktop virtualisation fits into this picture. Major desktop virtualisation initiatives are clearly increasing in frequency at the moment – for example, a flagship 2,400 user rollout at the Australian Securities and Investment Commission – but it’s not quite clear yet whether (when?) they will become the dominant paradigm. One to watch very closely.

Know of any major Australian Windows 7 deployments? Drop us a line through our anonymous tips line. Even we won’t know who you are.

Image credit: techedlive, Creative Commons


  1. My employer is moving to Win7 across the board soon – that’s about 150-160 seats…not massive, but looks like being an interesting exercise.

    The biggest thing here is that October 2010 signalled the official cessation of new machines coming pre-installed with XP. Any organisation doing a hardware refresh is not getting a “factory” install of XP anymore, so find themselves with Win7 licences already, and no clean XP image to work off.

    Given that as time progresses, more applications are specifically written for the newer operating systems – (and as older versions of those applications go out of maintenance as well) – people sticking with XP find it more and more of a day to day issue to support XP.

    Come 2014 – all official support for XP will cease.

    People are using the fact they aren’t getting new XP licences anymore, combined with regular hardware refreshes that most organisations of any real size have to do, and you’ve got a situation where it’s not specifically a choice to move away from XP – it becomes something that just happens.

    This happens with most versions of Windows – the difference this time around is that XP was the main show for soooooooooo long, that it fits like an old sock, and there’s resistance to change from your user base.

    The “biotches just have to suck it up sometimes”.

  2. Its a good operating system Just wish they would release Windows 7a instead of 8 which focuses on dealing with emerging security threats and improved enterprise tools instead of dreaming up new functionality that will break and/or piss people off. When you get it right, stop trying to “fix” it. You think the Vista horror story would have shown them that already. Add more, cool, re-engineer = pain.

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