Upgrading to the resource hog that was Windows Vista meant that home and business users alike also required a hardware upgrade. The fact that Vista required quite expensive new hardware in order to run at a level of performance equivalent to Windows XP’s turned customers away from the new platform, and kept the share of the product on the operating system market under 20%, according to Net Applications. However, the same is not valid for Windows 7. Much to the contrary, Windows 7 is perfectly capable of running on older machines, with less the hardware resources required by Vista. Windows 7 makes old PCs feel new again, Microsoft notes, citing its own customers. (read about Free Windows 7 RTM Tests)
Online retailer Essential Apparel is one of the small businesses that have jumped from XP to Windows 7 and that found the latest Windows client to breathe new life into the older computers in their infrastructure. Essential Apparel embraced Windows 7 when the OS was in Beta stage in February 2009, a month after Build 7000 was released to the public. Crucial in the decision to abandon XP was the fact that the new platform did not require hardware upgrades.
“And because Windows 7 can run on the same PCs we were using for Windows XP, moving to Windows 7 effectively extended the useful life of our older PCs,” noted Bob Mayer, Essential Apparel’s president. The financial estimates indicate that by simply upgrading to Windows 7, the company managed to save approximately $20,000 in capital spending in 2009 alone. The $20.000 in cut expenditures come from the deferral of hardware upgrades.
But there are additional success stories in the small business universe that Microsoft unearthed. Retailer GameWear also migrated its IT infrastructure to Windows 7, citing the necessity to kick up a notch the efficiency of its business. GameWear’s Frank Cerullo explains that Windows Vista makes it easier for customers service representatives to manage and find items related to over 4,000 stock-keeping units (known as SKUs) and spread throughout 50,000 files.
““When a retailer calls asking for a photo they can put in their catalog, we have to quickly locate the right photo and graphics,” Cerullo noted. “It’s easy to misplace a PDF, Word or Outlook file. We used to spend hours tracking down mislaid files.” But at the same time he revealed that it’s not all about search: “I can’t point to just one feature of Windows 7 as the most important for a small business like mine. Rather, it does hundreds of things a little bit better or faster than previous operating systems, and at the end of the day that adds up to a significant productivity improvement. I would estimate it is about 30 percent faster than Windows XP, which we used to run, and that it has provided my employees with at least a 10 or 15 percent improvement in productivity. And it took less than a day to upgrade all 12 of our PCs.”
Cerullo also explained that Windows 7 has been designed from the get go to embrace legacy Windows Vista applications, that are otherwise incompatible and unsupported on the operating system. The secret behind the way Windows 7 deals with legacy programs is Windows XP Mode. GameWear installed Windows 7 in the first half of 2009, when the Release Candidate Build 7100 came out. “As a small-business owner, especially in an economy like the one we’re in now where we’re trying to do everything we can to squeeze as much productivity out of our work force, why not start taking advantage of the latest technology as soon as it becomes available, rather than play a catch-up game with your competitors later?” Cerullo asked.
Both Essential Apparel and GameWear upgraded to Windows 7 guided by IT consultant and Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Carl Mazzanti, of New Jersey-based eMazzanti Technologies. Mazzanti also assisted dozens other clients in their migration to Windows 7, including Dewey Pegno & Kramarsky.
“It’s a quality of life thing. How can I squeeze more productivity out of the same or a lesser amount of time? The technology that answers that need has got my attention,” explained Stephen Kramarsky, one of the Dewey Pegno & Kramarsky partners. “If I’m rushing to a meeting or deposition, I can be up and working again in seconds versus waiting a minute or more with other operating systems. Attorneys work in a time-compressed environment where some seconds are longer than others.”
Just two months since general availability on October 22nd, 2009, the usage share of Windows 7 jumped over 5% of the market eroding Vista’s, but also, more importantly, XP’s share. And with Windows XP’s end of life approaching, more and more customers are bound to start upgrading.
“Small and medium-sized businesses today want to get more out of what they already have, whether that means getting by with less staff, being able to leverage their existing infrastructure, top-line growth or bottom-line improvements. Windows 7 is an enabler of all of these. For nearly every business, it saves time and it saves money. The path to savings may be different for different businesses, but the savings are there. You’d be surprised how quickly seconds and pennies add up to hours and dollars,” a Mazzanti representative said