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Windows 7: Behind the Scenes of Windows 7 Enterprise

04 Mar 2009   #1

Behind the Scenes of Windows 7 Enterprise

There’s been a lot of talk in the community about what Windows 7 offers consumers. Today, I’d like to highlight the enterprise value of the product and how it reflects what customers and partners told us enterprises need most.

With Windows Vista, we learned a lot about how involved our customers and partners like to be in the development of an OS – in a nutshell, early and often. With Windows 7, we changed the way we developed the Windows OS in order to be more responsive to that feedback. As such, early on we identified three main principles to our new process:

  • Planning: Our team spent six months on planning Windows 7 in a “vision phase.” We analyzed trends and customer needs before building features. We also focused more on end-to-end business scenarios, rather than solely on features and technologies.
  • Predictability: We committed to giving our customers and partners a timeframe for our release and stuck to it. We remain on track to ship Windows 7 within three years of the Windows Vista release. We also only shared information about Windows 7 when we had a higher degree of certainty which has resulted in minimal changes from earlier disclosures.
  • Early Ecosystem Engagement: We engaged with partners during the early stages of Windows 7 development, rather than waiting for the traditional beta timeframe. This has allowed for a more seamless experience and greater compatibility in all areas.
There are three key areas we look at in our development process: industry trends, in-depth discussions with top customers and partners, and extensive quantitative customer research.

I won’t go into details except to remind you of trends with the most significant impact on IT today: costs, consumerization, reducing carbon footprint, contingency planning and compliance. As a result of the continued economic deterioration, most businesses are thinking about cost. IT is under pressure to deliver efficiencies in their environments and greater ROI on technology expenses – we recognize this through personal experience and input from our customers and partners.

We spent a great deal of time talking and engaging with our customers and partners in order to really understand what’s on their mind. Knowing where their challenges lie and what tools they need to be successful helps us deliver an OS that meets their needs and is a valuable investment, which is critical when IT budgets are tighter than ever.

This engagement came in two forms – qualitative and quantitative.

Our qualitative outreach consisted of over 100 of our top customers through five programmatic engagement vehicles:

  • Desktop Advisory Council: Twenty-seven active IT leaders across a variety of industries including some of the world’s largest manufacturers, banks, insurers, telecoms, energy companies and professional services firms. We used their input for overall direction and feature decisions.
  • OEM Engagement: Leading manufacturers from around the world. This gave us an opportunity to inform and set direction, while receiving their feedback.
  • Ecosystem Engagement: Members of the Windows Ecosystem Readiness Program received access to builds and toolkits for Windows 7. They also gained access to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 labs for partners.
  • Technology Adoption Program: Strictly engineering-focused, customers in TAP committed a large investment of their time and resources in test deployments of Beta and pre-Beta code. Their help enables us to validate features in real-world situations, produce bugs and generate feedback.
  • First Wave Program: Customers who are already in progress with deploying Windows 7 Beta in their environment. This group provides real time feedback on their experience deploying Windows 7 Beta and helps us see what an enterprise deployment looks like.
For our Quantitative Research, we engaged extensively with almost 4000 customers in developing and emerging markets. This research surfaced the top areas of concern: Risk Management, Compliance and Mobility. Key findings included:

  • 56% said they needed help protecting corporate data on laptops. This validated our decision to include BitLocker in Windows 7 Enterprise, and to extend its capabilities to the portable hard drives that can be just as dangerous and more loosely monitored than laptops.
  • 61% expressed a deep concern about ensuring their users install and use only authorized applications (for fear of security breaches from unauthorized applications). This helped prioritize our plan to develop AppLocker.
  • 49% wanted to make it easier for remote workers to access corporate resources, bubbling a plan up for Direct Access capabilities.
So how did this affect Windows 7?

Windows 7 Enterprise mirrors what we learned during our planning and research phase and resulted in three big areas of investment:

  • Making users Productive Anywhere is a focus on the mobile user community and empowering users with seamless access: We built technologies into Windows 7 such as BranchCache, Direct Access, Federated Search, and Enterprise Search Scopes to enable users to access to their data and applications anywhere and anytime.
  • Improving Security and Control is a focus on protecting data, enabling compliance and giving IT better control: With this in mind we designed BitLocker To Go, which protects data stored on portable media, such as USB drives. This enables IT to only allow authorized users to read data or portable media, even if the media is lost or stolen. Additionally, AppLocker provides a mechanism for administrators to specify via Group Policy exactly what is allowed to run on their systems.
  • Streamlining PC Management is a continued focus to drive the cost of managing a Windows environment down: Windows 7 makes managing and deploying desktops, laptops and virtual environments much easier. IT Pros can use the same tools and skills they use today with Windows Vista for Windows 7. New scripting and automation capabilities through Windows PowerShell 2.0 help reduce the costs of managing and troubleshooting PCs.
And we’re not finished! Research on Windows 7 overall continues today as we receive feedback from our Beta testers. We’ve received over 500,000 Send Feedback reports on Windows 7 Beta. Thanks to our dedicated customers, we have hundreds of fixes in the pipeline. This is a testament to how we’re taking your feedback and inputting it directly into Windows 7.

With Windows 7, we’ve advanced our vision for an Optimized Desktop to allow administrators the ability to balance flexibility and control in helping end-users work better in their environments. Windows 7 Enterprise, along with Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), delivers Microsoft Windows Optimized Desktop vision to customers: it gives users anytime, anywhere access to information they need to get their work done; while providing tools for IT to support their business securely, protect corporate data, achieve cost efficiencies, and take advantage of the virtualization trends in the client computing arena.

To summarize, customers tell us the economy is bringing new levels of scrutiny to how they manage costs, mitigate risks and make their people more productive with less. We get it. Windows 7 Enterprise is about helping both IT Pros and end users manage an intensifying – and often opposing – confluence of pressures.

Throughout the Windows 7 development process, we’ve been committed to creating an OS that is designed for the way people actually work. We’re convinced Windows 7 has an exciting and powerful offering for our business customers, but we want to hear from you. If you are one of our enterprise customers considering Windows 7, our guidance to you is to start testing and planning now and send us your feedback. If you haven’t been considering Windows 7, we think there are compelling reasons for you to take another look.


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 Behind the Scenes of Windows 7 Enterprise

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