Large enterprises and small businesses alike are in the throes of making very strategic decisions about their Windows desktop road map. The result of which is that customer optimism is high for new information on the future of Windows. With Windows 7, however, Microsoft is taking a tighter approach to releasing product information which is driven by Steven Sinofsky, the new head of Windows development. This approach stems from a lot of the lessons Microsoft learned from its Windows Vista experiences and we agree that it’s the right approach to take. Let's face it, Microsoft was burned by Windows Vista for promising too much for too diverse a crowd and it's going to be a little more disciplined about when and how it discloses information on Windows 7. So desktop ops professionals have to be more patient moving forward and discount any speculation that is undoubtedly on the way.
With June 30th just one month away, your business may be feeling pressure to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista. But don't panic if you're not ready. Three of the world's largest PC manufacturers have announced that they will continue support for Windows XP on new PCs when customers exercise their Windows Vista downgrade rights. The best part of the downgrade process is that when you're ready to move to Windows Vista, you have already purchased the license for it. So the upgrade should be "free." And why is Microsoft allowing this? Because machines shipping after a Windows Vista downgrade (hence, with Windows XP) still count as shipped Windows Vista licenses, which allows Microsoft to continue touting how well Vista is selling.
Here's a quick guide to the Windows Vista downgrade process by PC manufacturer for all of the businesses that aren't yet ready for Windows Vista.
The last of the service packs for Windows XP (SP3) was released to manufacturing last month and to the Web on May 6 after a delay to fix compatibility with Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS). SP3 contains the usual rollup of all the fixes and patches along with several (mainly security) enhancements including black hole router detection and network access protection (NAP). Don’t expect any new features or new versions of Internet Explorer or Media Player, however, given that Microsoft has turned its focus to Windows Vista and subsequently "Windows 7."
As with any SP release, the Microsoft support forums were immediately flooded with some irate consumers. The most consistent complaint was of endless reboot cycles on AMD-powered machines. This error was quickly traced back to mistakes made on the part of HP that have still not been resolved. However, the majority of consumers and businesses alike should expect a non-event in upgrading.
In recent years, AMD has struggled to remain relevant in the commercial PC as it has competed against Intel, the market share leader and gold-standard in processor performance. Today, companies often only choose AMD for its lower initial acquisition costs — which run approximately $50 to $75 cheaper than Intel’s, although you’re sacrificing performance to get there. This approach of narrowly undercutting Intel has not worked well for AMD, as it has now seen six straight quarters of net loss.
On Monday, however, AMD announced a major new initiative it calls AMD Business Class — a renewed effort to better compete in the commercial segment across both desktops and laptops. Targeting SMBs, the public sector, and large enterprises, AMD Business Class is its renewed focus on a historically weaker area than the consumer market. Initially, AMD is touting the availability of three new AMD-powered desktops: HP’s dc5850 and dx2450, Fujitsu Siemens Computers’ Esprimo E/P5625, and a refresh of Dell’s OptiPlex 740. The new processors are available in Athlon X2 dual-, Phenom X3 triple-, and Phenom X4 quad-cores and will try to keep pace with Intel’s Green IT initiatives with Energy Star 4.0 compliance.
CTIA, one of the wireless industry’s biggest conferences of the year, is happening this week in Las Vegas and Microsoft is garnering the most headlines. Why? It officially announced Windows Mobile 6.1, which is expected to hit the market "within the next couple of months." Forrester received a hands-on preview of it a couple of weeks ago and we couldn’t help but leave the meeting feeling like Microsoft’s playing catch-up to superior handheld device user experience providers like Apple and RIM. Still, it’s a good sign that Microsoft is focused on simplifying the user experience moving forward.
Microsoft has been heads down for years keeping IT happy and it’s been pretty successful given that 54% of the 531 North American businesses we recently surveyed support Windows Mobile-powered smartphones. However, Microsoft is now facing pressure to improve the user experience so that it’s pleasant for workers’ personal lives as well as their professional lives. The biggest changes that Windows Mobile 6.1 will bring include a more PC-like browsing experience, threaded SMS conversations, improved search, and simpler navigation (e.g., an improved home page and one-tap connection to a wireless network).
These experience improvements are clearly evolutionary rather than revolutionary. But Windows Mobile 6.1 proves two things:
The iPhone, a consumer powerhouse, has garnered a lot of interest among prosumers that leaves us wondering if it's quite ready for the enterprise. We've received a surprising volume of client inquiries over the past few weeks regarding whether large organizations should add the iPhone to their list of internally supported mobile devices. Forrester strongly believes that the first generation of the iPhone is not an enterprise-class mobile device. Limitations like its lack of support for push email and calendar, third-party applications, and disk or file encryption make the iPhone impossible to secure and manage. However, improvements are already being taken to make the iPhone more business friendly with a new generation that will support 3G networks and will be open to third-party applications.
Is there anyone out there that thinks we're off base here and that has welcomed the iPhone within the walls of your enterprise? If so, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Look out for an upcoming Forrester report on this topic as it is proving to be a hot one in the mobile enterprise space.
Yesterday, Lenovo announced at LinuxWorld that it will be offering its ThinkPad T Series pre-loaded with Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 in Q4. This is significant for Linux on the desktop for businesses because, now, two of the three tier one global PC suppliers to enterprises will be pushing for better software and driver compatibility for Linux. After Dell has flirted with the idea of Ubuntu for SMBs, Lenovo has upped the ante with this offering. And if it wasn’t good enough to convince enterprises to pilot Linux in their environment, Novell is also offering direct support to end customers -- something it hasn’t yet done. The announcement comes at a particularly good time for Novell because it expands its distribution channel significantly at a time that enterprises are struggling with when, why, and how they should deploy Windows Vista. So what does this mean for Microsoft? Almost nothing. Customer choice is good. Competition is good. May the best solution win.