Windows 7 Partner Event – Oh Jaysus; They’ve Ruined Windows 7 Already With Marketing!

Let me preface this by saying I am looking forward to the technologies coming in Windows 7.  Unfortunately, I’m not looking forward to how they will be packaged based on the plans we heard at this event.  I believe the packaging of new business features that could tempt customers to go to Windows 7 and enable them to overcome technology-caused business issues into Windows 7 Business Edition would be beneficial to both Microsoft and their customers.  I rarely see SA being bought.  I can see those large organisations that do buy it now triming their budgets to the essentials.

Microsoft Ireland’s partner team held an event today on Windows 7.  The speaker is Jelle Kooi from Microsoft Netherlands.

Really bad news and more mistakes from MS.  Windows 7 Enterprise (only available to SA customers) will have more features than Vista Enterprise did that won’t be in the Business edition. 

  • Windows 7 UAC is silent except for low level code, e.g. AV, firewall, imaging, etc.
  • Vista h/w will run Win7

Search Federation

Only in Windows 7 Enterprise.  BOO!

Note that Windows Enterprise Edition is only available to Software Assurance customers.

DirectAccess

Only in Windows 7 Enterprise.  BOO!

DirectAccess is one of the killer apps in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.  DA was one of the business reasons to go from XP to Windows 7 and Windows 2003 to Windows Server 2008 R2. 

This is the system that works with W2008 R2 for seamless access to the company network without a VPN client.

BranchCache

Only in Windows 7 Enterprise.  BOO!

Every one of of the killer apps in Win7 is hidden away from the majority of businesses.

BitLocker to Go

Ultimate and Enterprise only.  Ugh!

Encrypt USB devices and control using GPO.  It seems pretty simple.  GPO control makes this powerful.  It looks like the only one of the discussed Win7 features to be included in Ultimate.  Strange that!  Vista Ultimate included everything.

AppLocker

Enterprise only.  Oh come on!?!?!?

Force application control on the network.  This is different to Software Restriction Policies.  Uses digital signatures – different than the SRP hash rule approach which breaks apps when they get patched.  Depends on your s/w having a digital signature.  I’m thinking that might be a problem with some legitimate 3rd party business apps.  Managed using rules in GPO.

EDIT:

Thought a bit more about this later in the day.  This feature could be more significant than I originally thought.  A friend, Tim, is a big fan of white listing.  Is this where MS is going?  It takes work to get going but it protects the network big time.

Native VHD

Deploy your operating system as a VHD (virtual hard disk, the same format used by Virtual PC and Hyper-V) so your PC can boot from this VHD.  Your imaging solution options are opened up.

This uses some version of Hyper-V so it’s likely going to not support hibernation and BitLocker would be restricted to the contents of the VHD.

VDI

Still requires VECD (to be renamed) monthly lease licensing.  Improved printing experience – I would guess it’s XPS.  Regular readers know I love XPS printing in W2008 Terminal Services.

EDIT:

VECD (to be renamed as I had previously predicted) is still limited to a special SKU that you lease.  Didn’t catch if it is SA only.

PowerShell 2.0

This is installed by default.  I think a lot of companies will want to control access to this powerful environment via GPO.  It’s a built in avenue for attack – end users don’t need this power.  This will be loved by ConfigMgr admins who really take advantage of the power in their hands.

Deployment

The recommendation is to deploy MDOP (Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack) first, then Vista Enterprise and then Windows 7 Enterprise.  OK, agreed … if you (A) have Software Assurance and (B) can afford the extra licensing for MDOP.  MDOP offers a lot to simplify application ownership.  It’s a pity things like App-V (which was Softgrid) aren’t available to the open market as they used to be before MS bought them.

My Comments

I made my point to the speaker during the presentation: this hiding away of the new features bhind SA means that business reasons to upgrade from XP to Windows 7 aren’t there for most businesses now.  Most don’t buy SA, they buy OEM or volume licensing without SA.  Think of BitLocker.  How many businesses use that?  Exactly!  I’ve never seen it in the wild. 

Quote from today “Customers with SA are happier with Windows than those who aren’t?”  It’s because they’ve gotten the complete solution.  So if MS wanted Windows Vista to be a success, why the hell did they restrict the number of happy customers they would have?  Stupid, stupid, stupid and I’ve given up trying to have this discussion with them because they are caught up in the circle of their own sales pitch and marketing like a politician.

For you sys admins and site engineers out there running legacy OS’s, I hope you’re happy with XP and Windows 2003 because I believe you’re going to be still working on those OS’s for a very long time unless MS changes their feature packing for Windows 7.

So there you have it.  Windows 7 will indeed be the next Windows Vista for most businesses and will offer no business reason to upgrade from whatever they’re running now.  That’s both bad news for them and bad news for partners who could have gotten work for OS deployments, not to mention the customers who could have used the features to resolve technology caused business issues.  What MS has done is left Windows stagnate with no new business features (pretty GUI’s and burning DVD’s don’t count) for the majority of customers and left a window open for Apple and Linux to catch up in the desktop space.

Come on MS!  You can do better than this!  We know you can change, e.g. the Hyper-V W2008 CAL issue and bringing back the SKU for unauthenticated Windows Server Standard in SPLA.  You’ve done the hard work by developing the features to make Windows 7 a product for all businesses.  Don’t confirm conspiracy theories that you only care for the Fortune 500’s.  e know you care about the little guys, e.g. BizSpark and DreamSpark.  Put these killer app features into Windows 7 Business Edition for everyone and satisfy 100% of your customers, not just the SA ones.  There’s got to be a way to do this and give value in SA.

EDIT:

If you agree with me on this subject then contact your local MS office and let them know.  They will change this only if they get overwhelmingly negative feedback.  Don’t let a salesperson’s waffle ruin a good product.  Force them to pass it on back to Redmond.  MS is responsive to constructive feedback so give it to them if you feel strongly about the issue.

EDIT 2:

Oh yeah, the speaker was telling partners that they should get customers to upgrade from XP to Vista now and then upgrade customers to Windows 7.  I cannot agree with this.  Who is going to spend a tonne of money and time upgrading to Vista and then repeat the process 12 months later to upgrade to Windows 7 when there’s a global recession?  In times like these we need to avoid reenforcing the idea of IT geeks wanting to upgrade and spend.  We’re more than a cost centre.  We need to be careful.  The idea of upgrading OS’s more often than once every 3 years scares the hell out of people.  If we do an upgrade from W2K or XP (or older) then lets wait and jump to Windows 7, hopefully with DirectAccess and BranchCache *fingers crossed*

EDIT 3:

Been thinking about this.  I understand MS’s desire to add value to Software Assurance.  If someone pays a lot of money for something then there should be a reward.  Personally, I thought having access to Windows Fundamentals (turn legacy PC’s into terminals), training vouchers, support and the right to upgrade were invaluable when I was a SA customer in a large company.  In fact, those vouchers were excellent when I wanted to bring my team up to speed on some new stuff that came along and our support calls were converted into Essentials calls when we got that support contract.  Our EA was flexible and Desktop Core CAL’s were a money saver.  But I came to think that SA on our desktops wasn’t as valuable as it was for the servers.  I planned to upgrade to W2003 R2 upon release to use things like the Print Management Console, file server management and DFS-R.  But our desktops were stuck on WXP SP2 company wide, 1 year after the RTM of XP SP2 because LOB business applications didn’t support SP2.  That would have surely prevented us from upgrading the OS, had Vista come along earlier, for a very long time, much more than the 2 or 3 years SA covers you for.  To me, upgrade rights are the big thing because you are paying a % of the original software cost.

But, I’m going to hold strong on my main theme here.  I love the new business features of Windows 7.  I don’t love that most businesses won’t get to use them.  I hope MS changes it’s mind on the product packaging because it will make Win7 a bigger success if they do.

Mark Russinovich Talking About Windows 7

"Springboard Series Virtual Roundtable

Windows 7: To the Beta and Beyond

Date: Thursday, February 12th

Time: 11:00am Pacific Time

https://ms.istreamplanet.com/springboard

Join Mark Russinovich and a panel of subject matter experts for a live discussion of what’s in store for IT pros with Windows 7. Learn about the evolution of features like Group Policy, BitLocker™ To Go, DirectAccess, BranchCache™, and Software Restriction then get tips on troubleshooting, deployment, and application compatibility. Bring your questions—Mark and the panel will answer as many as they can during the hour-long event, then publish the rest in a Q&A after the event".

Windows 7 Deployment Changes

The Windows Deployment blog lists a number of changes in how Windows OS deployment will change with Windows 7, and probably Windows Server 2008 R2.  Don’t worry, it’s not like the massive change from the text based systems of WNT/W2K/WXP to "Panther" in Vista and W2008.  MS are making modifications and improvements to the current system which they claim will make it easier and quicker to deploy.  Some of these include:

  • DISM sounds like it’s replacing WISM and will include more tools, e.g. ImageX.
  • Using Diskpart to mount offline VHD’s, e.g "surfacing" them.
  • WinPE is changing.  ImageX moves into DISM and the default WPE image contains no functionality.
  • WinRE (Recovery Environment) is installed on the OS by default.
  • A tiny hidden BitLocker volume is created by default.
  • Moving upwards between versions of Windows 7 shouldn’t require a reinstall/upgrade.  Functionality is hidden depending on the license key you use.
  • Speaking of which: manually entered license keys are not entered during setup anymore.  This allows lab/evaluation work.  You now enter them afterwards.
  • WAIK is supposed to be improving.

Other new stuff to expect include

  • WDS in Windows Server 2008 R2 will include multicast with multiple stream transfer.  This means that faster clients can work on one stream and slower clients can work on another.  Your localised network/NIC/disk bottlenecks won’t slow down everyone at once.
  • Dynamic Driver Provisioning will allow you to store client drivers on the WDS server and hopefully remove messy image updating – that scares many people away.  Drivers are downloaded at install time.
  • WDS VHD Native Boot: VHD Native Boot uses a Virtual Hard Disk to store an OS and it’s applications/data.  The VHD is deployed to a machine.  The machine has a small boot up partition for the essential files to start the machine.  The second partition is where a VHD (or many VHD’s) are located.  The VHD is mounted as a volume and the machine boots from it’s contents.  WDS will be able to deploy these VHD’s.  This makes for "fungible" machines, i.e. a user’s computing environment is tied to the VHD and not the hardware.

Windows 7 Shortcuts

Tim Sneath has posted a long list of shortcuts to getting things done in Windows 7.  I know it’s early days but we’re unfortunately already seeing some of the disconnect from the market.  When Vista was in beta we heard lots about "pretty" and "burning photos to DVD".  Balmer seemed to focus on the home user market in a recent keynote.  Most everything I’m reading about Windows 7 is the same claptrap that businesses don’t care about.  Where’s the information and presentations about BranchCache and RemoteAccess?  These are the real killer features?

There’s three things in this post that I found interesting:

  • A claim that Windows 7 has a smaller installation footprint.
  • You can install Windows 7 from a USB stick: format the stick with FAT32 and use xcopy <DVD drive letter>: <USB drive letter>: /e /f to copy the installation files.
  • WIN+P will bring up a projector menu so you can easily configure projector settings and displays.  No more driver dependant messing.

Oh yeah, WIN+E no longer opens Windows Explorer.  Yes, let’s get rid of something that all power users use for absolutely no other reason than to direct you to the latest fan-dabby-doozee piece of multimedia crap that power users have no use for.

Come on MS!  Don’t get into the "we are not considered that for this release" mind set that stopped me from actually contributing feedback in previous betas.

Credit: Tim Sneath.

Windows 7 Deployment

Did you know that Windows 7 beta was released publicly?  I don’t know if it was mentioned anywhere?  Oh wait, it’s mentioned everywhere!  If you’re a network admin and serious about testing or getting ready for Windows 7 then I suggest you start looking at the best ways to deploy it.  There’s a beta release of documentation for Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) for Windows 7 and a walkthrough for User State Migration Toolkit (USMT).