Microsoft makes its case for Windows 7 in the enterprise

Says new OS had broad testing with enterprise users, plus 1M hours of automated testing

Weeks after making its case for why enterprises should dump Windows XP for Windows Vista, Microsoft talked up the merits of its upcoming operating system, Windows 7, for large businesses.

Besides new security and management features, such as BitLocker To Go and Applocker, Windows 7 has benefited from extensive testing with enterprise customers, according to Gavriella Schuster, a senior director for Windows client product management, in an interview.

Several-dozen companies participated in Microsoft's Technology Adoption Program (TAP) for Windows 7's betas, she said, while 50 companies are deploying Windows 7 as part of a "First Wave" program.

Microsoft also performed 1 million hours of automated performance testing on Windows 7, she said.

The goal, Schuster said, is to prevent the application and device driver compatibility problems that hit Vista.

For instance, Microsoft discovered through testing that one of the biggest causes of broken applications in Vista was installation failures. In such cases, the application, during the installation process, would check what version of Windows was running, and if it wasn't XP, the installation would immediately fail, she said. That was true even if the application was likely to have worked in Vista, anyway.

As a result, Microsoft is pushing independent software vendors to change that installer code to allow apps to be installed in Windows 7 even if they weren't explicitly written for it.

But isn't it more prudent for apps that haven't been explicitly rewritten and certified for Windows 7 to be prevented from installing, in case the software misbehaves down the road? Not at all, Schuster said.

"We don't want to randomly break apps simply because of a versioning issue," she said.

On drivers, Microsoft has now certified 2.8 million unique devices as plug-and-play for Windows 7, she said. Altogether, out of 10 million devices and peripherals, 75 percent already have drivers carried by Windows 7, another 20 percent are available now through Windows Update, with the remaining 5 percent still being worked on by Microsoft.

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