blog Microsoft’s new flagship desktop operating system Windows 8 might have been released in October, but if you cast your eye around Australia’s IT departments, you won’t precisely find a frenetic hive of activity as IT administrators update to Redmond’s latest opus. No, instead what you’ll find is that most are still struggling to deploy its predecessor, Windows 7. A Microsoft case study published last month tells us that the City of Sydney, which has some 1,800 total staff, recently upgraded to Windows 7 from the long-lived Windows XP. Systems Center 2007 was used to aid in the rollout, and Sydney also simultaneously upgraded to Office 2010. A few key paragraphs:
Under an existing Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, the council’s approximately 1,800 employees, contractors, and part-time workers used a diverse and aging range of operating systems, server software, and desktop applications, including the Windows XP operating system and Microsoft Exchange Server 2003. From their central Sydney office, the council’s technical services team struggled to support this environment using a variety of system management applications and third-party security, monitoring, and updating tools.
“Our council colleagues were making it clear they needed better interoffice communication tools,” says Walter Cellich, Manager Information Services, City of Sydney. “Workers were grappling with the problem of increasing numbers of documents arriving in formats that they couldn’t read, while our IT team struggled to maintain many key line-of-business applications. We had a jigsaw puzzle of applications, declining vendor support, and mixed platforms, where we couldn’t fix one thing without potentially breaking another. We wanted a major technology refresh.”
As the council’s three-year Enterprise Agreement approached expiry, Cellich wanted to negotiate a swift, across-the-board upgrade. He wanted to standardize on Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2010, and Exchange Server 2010, with the ability to easily deploy Microsoft Lync 2010 and SharePoint 2010 later.
To me the situation with City of Sydney perfectly illustrates what seems to be mainly going on around Australia at the moment. Namely, it’s all about Windows 7. I have heard of a few Windows 8 tablet trials here and there, and it also seems that there have been a few trials of Windows 8 on the desktop as well, but when you look at the desktop situation as a whole in Australia, what you see is that Microsoft, over the past few years, has finally been able to make the case that migrating off Windows XP is worth it, and the Windows 7/Systems Center two-hit manageability combination has been the catalyst.
To my mind, until we have a really fundamental change to the desktop PC paradigm as a whole — perhaps when smartphones and/or tablets finally become better integrated with PCs — Windows 7 is going to be the dominant desktop platform in most Australian organisations. Windows 7 is just getting started in Australia. As crazy as that may seem at times. Enterprise IT deployments just take time.
Image credit: Microsoft