Mac OS X Snow Leopard boasts significant advantages in the enterprise. That doesn't mean all large organizations should migrate to Snow Leopard, however. There are many circumstances in which Windows 7 proves a better platform. Here are three reasons Windows 7 beats Apple's newest OS X release.
#1. Better maximizes existing Microsoft investments
Windows 7 deployments better leverage existing Windows infrastructure investments than does Mac OS X Snow Leopard. Companies with significant volume licensing investments in Windows servers, client access licenses, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL and Microsoft Office technologies can continue leveraging those investments by deploying Windows 7 systems. In many organizations, migrating to Windows 7 will require little to no changes in infrastructure configuration or license costs. This is especially true within enterprise environments possessing Software Assurance. Further, there's often no need to replace hardware and server chassis when deploying Windows 7 within existing Windows environments.
While organizations that switch to Snow Leopard don't necessarily have to rip out their Windows server infrastructure, existing CALs and other licensing terms will be best maximized by remaining on the Windows platform, which also reasonably prompts less disruption that moving to the UNIX-based system. Unless an organization already supports a heterogeneous environment, adding UNIX to a Windows shop adds complexity and places greater demands upon supporting staff.
#2. Better matches existing institutional knowledge
Windows-only shops typically have no compelling reason to employ systems administrators, support technicians, and other IT professionals familiar with deploying, administering, and troubleshooting UNIX. When enterprises standardized on Windows deploy Windows 7, most can leverage existing in-house experience, skills ,and knowledge to do so. Those organizations that switch to Mac OS X Snow Leopard must recruit additional staff familiar with administering and supporting the UNIX platform. The alternative is significant investments in training and education for existing staff, not to mention the resulting time lags necessary for developing those skills.
#3. Less user retraining required
For better or worse, it's a Windows world. Debate it all you want and slice it any way you care; Microsoft still owns the vast overwhelming majority of the market. That means most enterprise users are already familiar with Windows. Navigating the user interface, troubleshooting basic applications, locating the most common features, and performing the most frequent tasks are familiar acts for even the most pedestrian of Windows users.
Deploy Windows 7 in a Vista environment, and most users will be okay. Most will be able to perform daily operations with little to no disruption.
Deploy Windows 7 in an XP organization, and users may require a few hours of retraining. An informal Lunch and Learn session might be required to bring users up to speed and familiarize them with new ways of performing old tasks.
Deploy Snow Leopard in an organization of users having worked with Windows for years and, well, the organization better plan on hosting at least a few hours of formal training, if not more. Apple's done an outstanding job of making computers and software that are intuitive, reliable, better performing and more secure. But users will still have to familiarize themselves with Snow Leopard and learn how to properly perform common tasks.
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Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.