Friday, July 31, 2009

Windows 7: Don’t Wait for SP1

IT organizations considering their long-term Windows deployment plans should forgo the conventional “wait for Service Pack 1” wisdom and instead move directly to Windows 7 upon its release. That is our conclusion based on an analysis of the RTM build. Using the tools and resource of the exo.repository, we put Microsoft’s new OS through its paces and came away satisfied that it is indeed ready for immediate deployment.

Factors we considered include:

  • Architecture – Windows 7 is architecturally nearly identical to Windows Vista. Most changes are superficial, with the core kernel structures and driver model carried over from its immediate predecessor. This lack of code “churn” at a base level should translate into a relatively clean release, with none of the stability and/or compatibility issues that plagued the RTM build of Windows Vista.

  • Performance – Windows 7 performs almost identically to Windows Vista with Service Pack 2. Testing by DMS engineers shows that Microsoft’s new OS executes linear tasks (OfficeBench) roughly 3-5% faster than Vista while consuming slightly less (8%) memory and spawning fewer (5%) execution threads. However, Windows 7 still lags behind Windows XP by 20-25%, placing it squarely in the Vista-based OS camp in terms of real-world system requirements.

    This is actually a good thing. The PC ecosystem is just now catching up with Vista’s hefty requirements, so delivering an OS that improves on Vista’s capabilities, while maintaining its overall hardware footprint, is a significant accomplishment, especially for a company not generally known for its coding prowess.

  • Compatibility – With its limited changes at the kernel level, Windows 7 provides nearly perfect backwards compatibility with Windows Vista. Most Vista-compatible drivers and services run flawlessly under Windows 7, while applications that have been modified to work with Vista’s User Account Control (UAC) will generally work without incident under Windows 7’s less stringent (in its default configuration) implementation.

    Add to this the availability of Virtual Windows XP Mode and Windows 7’s compatibility story is far stronger that Vista’s when it was first released. Organizations that have been exploring their Vista upgrade options should find Windows 7 to be essentially interchangeable with its older sibling.

Overall, we feel that Windows 7 is a solid release and is sufficiently polished that IT organizations can ignore conventional wisdom and deploy it in its initial RTM state.

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