Toronto – Windows 7 will be released today to the world. For channel partners, however, the work and revenue opportunity around Windows 7 started a while ago.
Brian Bourne, president of CMS Consulting, was at the launch event in Toronto with one of its customers the City of London.
The City of London was essentially an XP shop. With 2,400 desktops running older applications that had memory caps of 280 Mbs. The city was already on a three-year hardware refresh cycle so Windows 7 came at an opportune time, said Brian Heathers, manager data centre and hardware services for the City of London.
“Our problem was that we had a 50-inch plasma TV, but we could only watch a 19-inch picture in the corner was my analogy. One of the reasons why we went to Windows 7 was that virus scans locked up the computer for up to two and three minutes at a time. A user would open up another Window and the PC was pretty much dead,” Heathers said.
City workers have witnessed less lag time with Windows 7 and the OS makes them more productive. “We deal with the public so it’s not a good idea to make the public wait,” Heathers said.
For CMS Consulting, Windows 7 has enabled them to sell more services such as deployment, application compatibility, testing applications, getting applications to work together with others, maintenance, and a new option for virtualization with HyperV.
The more services you can offer a customer the more revenue a solution provider can generate, Bourne said.
“The solution provider community will have a whole new set of services around Windows 7 that wasn’t there before. You still have to provide the expertise to customers such as the City of London to do things such as user migration,” Bourne said.
He added that there is also some potential for managed service providers with software distribution and patch management.
Phil Aldrich, Dimension Data’s practice director, Microsoft Solutions, said that market reception for Windows 7 is high.</P.
“With pent-up demand in the market especially from those who didn’t migrate to Vista, Dimension Data expects to see a large number of Windows 7 sales especially in the first quarter of 2010.
Bourne said that for the City of London, the initial roll out of 100 seats quickly led to 350 because City workers noticed how well Window 7 users were performing and demanded to be upgraded quicker.
Aldrich believes that Windows 7 can be a catalyst for change and he pointed to virtualization as the key. “The world of computing has changed dramatically in the years since XP. There is more interest in desktop virtualization and system management,” he said.
Bourne agreed saying there is also value down the road with Windows 7. Customers can easily keep user settings and patches and a number of desktop apps through virtualization.
Windows 7 has become the key selling point in Dimension Data’s Next Generation Desktop offering. This new offering incorporates Windows 7, virtualization, management tools for an evolving mobile workforce that demands security and cost savings.
The company has also developed the Next Generation Desktop Readiness Assessment, which is a three-day assessment and technology review.
The question most channel partners need to answer is if Windows 7 will run on existing equipment so that it can increase user performance and maintain legacy investments.
The answer is yes, according to Softchoice, who released a study on Windows 7 that found that 88 per cent of PCs already meet the minimum requirements to run Windows 7, while 65 per cent meet the recommended requirements. Softchoice polled more than 450,000 corporate PCs in its client environments in Canada and the U.S. for this study.
At the retail channel, this same question will be at the forefront when dealing with customers. Todd Empey, vice president of operations for the Burnaby, B.C.-based retail chain FutureShop is ready to offer help for customers who have upgrade questions.
Empey anticipates that most FutureShop customers will ask if their current computer can handle Windows 7 and the answer is yes even if they are currently running XP.