Enterprise IT Watch Blog

Mar 16 2011   10:27AM GMT

Windows 7: The Cost of Compatibility

Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

Luckily for most of us, especially end users, Windows 7 is highly compatible with current systems, even running better on the hardware than its predecessor, complete with XP mode or enterprise desktop virtualization to allow XP-specific applications to continue to run. This creates little, if any, turn around time for end users.

According to many who have made the switch, Windows 7’s interface changes are fairly intuitive and user-friendly. Other changes, such as to the notification area in an attempt to make Windows less intrusive, may require workarounds or additional education for staff. IT Knowledge Exchange member IceCubbe points out that many of the systems settings can be difficult to find, despite the updated search function. His suggestion? Take advantage of Microsoft’s “little trick dubbed ‘GodMode'”:

Create a folder and name it:GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

The next time you open the folder you will find links to all control panel settings listed….The GodMode folder becomes a motorway to your system settings.

Windows 7’s compatibility does not come without a learning curve; administrators must figure out how to ensure that applications will continue to run after the changeover. Deciphering and choosing one of Windows 7’s options for compatibility is key to a smooth transition. The Register’s Tim Anderson points out some of the key changes to administrative features between XP and Windows 7:

Microsoft’s tools for Windows 7 administration are better than those for Windows XP, but many techniques are different. Key areas include changes to group policy, which lets administrators customise and lock down Windows 7 desktops centrally, and the new Microsoft Deployment Toolkit including the Windows Deployment Services, the Windows Automated Installation Kit and the User State Migration Tool. Backup and restore is different than in Windows XP, being image-based and designed to work with backup drives or Microsoft’s Data Protection Server rather than with tape, though third-party backup systems are also available.

There are also significant new administrative features in Windows 7 such as Direct Access, which enables remote access to file shares without a VPN, and Bitlocker file encryption. Encryption is not to be taken lightly: get it wrong, and users can lose data.

Anderson also mentions Microsoft’s Software Assurance subscription, which now allows VDI use rights through the use of Windows Thin PC. The subscription also includes the Desktop Optimization Pack chock full of management features worth learning and utilizing.

The learning curve doesn’t end with administrators. Your help desk and software developers will also have to do a little catching up in order to understand and take full advantage of additional features like new troubleshooting tools and improved application performance in Windows 7.

If you have additional tips for a Windows 7 ease-of-use, share them in the comments section, in the forums, or email me directly at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.

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