According to Net Applications, it's been a good month for Microsoft. Internet Explorer 8 gained more market share to continue dominating the browser market, and Windows 7 surpassed its predecessor--Windows Vista--in market share for the first time. So, what exactly is driving the success of Windows 7?
1. Management. With integrated support for PowerShell 2.0, Windows 7 provides a superior infrastructure for IT admins to be able to automate common tasks and manage the desktops more efficiently.
IT admins can create powerful scripts with PowerShell 2.0. PowerShell uses the Windows Management Interface (WMI), and can call command-line tools--making it a very versatile tool for IT admins.
2. Troubleshooting. For some IT admins, helping users troubleshoot problems takes up a significant amount of time and gets in the way of other tasks that might improve the network for everyone. Troubleshooting problems remotely can be a uniquely difficult task challenging the patience of both the user and the IT technician.
Windows 7 provides Troubleshooting Packs that enable users to conduct their own troubleshooting for many common issues. IT admins can also create custom Troubleshooting Packs for recurring issues or internal applications.
For remote troubleshooting, Windows 7 has the Problem Steps Recorder feature. The Problem Steps Recorder lets users record the screenshots illustrating--click-by-click--the steps they are performing that seem to be causing the problem. The ability to replay the exact problem scenario greatly enhances the ability of remote IT technicians to identify and resolve the issue.
3. Security. Windows XP--which is still by far the most used operating system--is far behind Windows 7 when it comes to security controls. Windows 7 has security controls--like ASLR (address space layout randomization), DEP (data execution prevention), and UAC (user account control), and PMIE (Protected Mode IE)-- that don't exist in Windows XP.
Windows 7 also has AppLocker which lets IT admins set policies restricting which applications or scripts are allowed to run on the PC. Controlling which software can run on the desktop provides better security, as well as simpler system management.
BitLocker and BitLocker to Go enable IT admins to ensure that sensitive data is protected with encryption, and it can be easily managed via Group Policy.
4. It's Not Vista. The reputation of Vista is more a Microsoft marketing failure than the result of any real issues with Vista. While Windows 7 is not "Windows Vista R2" as some have suggested, but it is does have many of the same core elements that Vista has.
The launch of Windows Vista was marred by a lack of drivers and vendor-support--something Microsoft should have proactively addressed prior to launching a major new OS. Many of the other issues of Windows Vista, though, were actually misunderstood features that Microsoft allowed competitors like Apple to exploit in attacking Vista in marketing.
5. It's Still Supported. Although Windows 7 has surpassed Windows Vista, Windows XP still has more than twice the market share of both Windows 7 and Windows Vista combined. Those that have applied Windows XP SP3 are still being supported by Microsoft, but Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP SP2, or earlier OS versions such as Windows 2000.
Windows XP was a phenomenal success. The familiarity and comfort level of Windows XP, combined with tighter budgets and the fumbled launch of Windows Vista have all contributed to the extended success of the legacy OS.
Now that Windows 7 is in town, though, most companies are looking at finally refreshing hardware and upgrading the operating system to catch up with this decade and take advantage of the benefits listed here, as well as the hardware and software technologies that have come along that the archaic Windows XP is simply not compatible with.