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Windows 7: Where Is It Now and What is Next?

We humans have a fascination with benchmarking progress, evaluating development, and determining success or failure along the way. Case in point: the undying popularity of "Where are they now?" television shows.

The same can be said for the IT world, with its numerous product and technology launches that are touted as revolutionary, game-changing innovations. Such hype begs for retrospection to see whether it was much ado about nothing or whether the product/technology/company/wunderkind really did start a revolution and change the game.

Just over a year ago and with much fanfare, Microsoft introduced Windows 7, so it's only natural to compare it to its predecessor, Windows Vista.

A year after its launch, Windows Vista had less than 10 percent adoption. It is therefore natural to expect that 12 months in, Windows 7 would also be around the 10 percent adoption mark. Surprisingly, it is actually double that, with Windows 7 clearly demonstrating itself to be the platform that Windows Vista should have been.

Perhaps even more surprising than Windows 7's speedier adoption--which is significant in itself--is its dominance in desktop virtualization projects. Most of the desktop virtualization projects currently taking place are using Windows 7, which enforces the belief that Windows 7 is the way forward and a significant driver of desktop virtualization.

What I've seen from customers is that those adopting Windows 7 are also pressing ahead with application virtualization, and most predominantly (circa 90 percent) with App-V. These companies are not only changing the desktop paradigm with desktop virtualization but are realizing that application virtualization enables better application management and maintenance, at lower deployment cost.

As stated, the majority of customers I've seen make use of the App-V solution today, further enforcing my own belief that App-V is quickly becoming the de facto standard for application virtualization. Additionally, my experience is that application virtualization is being used in more and more enterprises for general application delivery across the broader desktop due to the benefits that are being realized during desktop virtualization projects. This leads me to believe that App-V is not only the upcoming de facto application virtualization technology but also application delivery technology.

A few months ago, many in the industry thought that componentization was the end goal, yet as the market has evolved we've learned that desktop virtualization is but another desktop delivery model, not the holy grail itself. The heterogeneous desktop is rapidly becoming accepted as the model by which most enterprises will be delivering service to users, with a need to ensure that all user experience remains well-performing and consistent regardless of which model is being used by the user.

Interestingly, not only are we seeing customers using Windows 7 together with an application virtualization technology on their virtual desktops, but those selfsame customers are also using physical desktops running Windows 7 (together with the application virtualization solution), with a desire to pull them together in terms of user experience. So, Windows 7 seems to be the key trigger that brings together areas of the business that were previously segregated--desktop and/or server virtualization and the physical desktop. User virtualization is clearly pulling these areas together, making for a more user friendly solution to running desktop computing in the enterprise.

Now, let's look ahead to the next 12 months and my predictions. I don't see any reason why market adoption won't be 30 to 50 percent within the next year, and it won't be solely Windows 7 either. App-V together with Windows 7 is a powerful combination that will doubtlessly be driving the upgrade process over the next 12 months.

Companies may well have to perform physical hardware upgrades in order to run Windows 7 on laptops, but that pain will be alleviated somewhat by their ability to simultaneously upgrade the application set with application virtualization technologies, improving on application delivery and reducing desktop management costs. At this time, the enterprise will also concentrate on the user experience by managing user virtualization as part of the migration management.

As we navigate our path out of the economic meltdown of recent times, all organizations are looking to maximize efficiency and reduce cost. Application delivery remains an expensive part of the IT cost center today, so application virtualization has already begun to demonstrate the potential to dramatically reduce packaging and testing time while improving application compatibility and enabling an enterprise to manage software assets far more efficiently.

So, in a sense, Windows 7 and App-V are perfectly aligned and timed to hit home where it counts--the enterprise IT budget.

From observing the introduction, adoption and implementation of Windows 7, it's clear to me that the operating system's popularity is not wholly due to its superiority over Windows Vista--though that certainly helps--but that it's also due to Windows 7's potency when combined with application virtualization. What will be interesting to see is how this reciprocal relationship matures and evolves in the coming year and what other changes it might influence in the enterprise IT environment and the user experience itself.

Posted by Simon Rust on 11/15/2010 at 12:49 PM


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