Windows

What Windows 7 means for support professionals

Does Windows 7 totally flip support upside down? Not entirely, according to IT pro Rick Vanover, who presents these Windows 7 support decision points for organizations considering an upgrade.

Does Windows 7 totally flip support upside down? Not entirely, according to IT pro Rick Vanover, who presents these Windows 7 support decision points for organizations considering an upgrade.

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Believe it or not, Windows 7 is not a beta any longer! How about supporting the new OS? There are a lot of considerations that support staff needs to take into consideration, and now is the time to rethink the overall support strategies in place.

Time to dump the old tools

When Windows 7 makes it way into your support footprint, it may be the right time to remove obsolete support tools. This includes remote console mechanisms such as VNC, DameWare, or RAdmin. Sure, these tools made sense in the Windows 2000 era and were a passable carryover to Windows XP. But should these tools be rolled onto Windows 7?

The upgrade to Windows 7 may be the prime time to roll in a newer console-based support strategy. This can include Remote Desktop or newer-concept products as a service such as LogMeIn Pro. Today, connectivity is a mixed bag of wired, wireless, and remote (VPN) connections. Products such as LogMeIn can support on all of those bands, including situations where the PC is not connected to the network.

Reinstallation process refined

It is a good time now to refine desktop protection and troubleshooting practices if they just waste time. Would it be better to give 20 minutes to fixing a problem, and if it is not resolved launch an automated re-installation process? You may want to consider if an automated tool like Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 is a good solution for client systems. This can save a lot of time with a fully automated solution to deploy new systems as well as re-deploy existing systems in case a rebuild requirement exists.

UAC can make or break the experience

Vista's User Account Control (UAC) feature was one of the most disliked elements of the default configuration; Windows 7's implementation of UAC is improved with more options. Be careful, however, to give thought to UAC for Windows 7 and how it will be used. The new configuration levels for UAC in Windows 7 allow for a custom configuration, which will ease the frustrations for users new to UAC. For organizations that are skipping Vista and going directly to Windows 7, there is also an additional training component to this new feature if administrative permissions are assigned to certain users.

The support burden won't go away with Windows 7; so, what new tools are you considering adding to your support arsenal to align better with Windows 7? Share your comments below.

About

Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

25 comments
reisen55
reisen55

Windows 7 is FAR superior to Vista, and I have no trouble with planning for a migration for my clients. Windows XP Professional, still operational and still a good product, will likely have on-going support through 2011 or thereabouts. Vista is a dead horse. That said, the cost of migration is NOT an option for XP to Windows 7. It is a full purchase price. Cost consideration for clients. Secondly, some of my clients have budgets decimated by economic conditions and cannot afford the upgrade at this time. The virtues of Windows 7, such as touch-screen mouse and ability to run several open sessions at once are impressive but a real business need has to exist to use them. For some clients, a simple dual-monitor display arrangement makes this a somewhat moot issue. Clients will have to judge as to whether the advantages of Windows 7 as per a business need to upgrade or purchase justifies the cost of doing so. And whether the neat and nifty bells and whistles of Windows 7 are impressive enough to justify time and pre-testing or implementation to perform the job. I believe with Windows XP will be around for more than a few years, certainly given the economic recession and budget considerations I am experiencing with my clients - making do with what is already in use.

Mike Klenner
Mike Klenner

Windows 7 with new features such UAC control, refined re-installation helps Small business IT support providers to make installation and re-installation easier than before and UAC control features allows them to give many administrative permissions to certain users.

jb20
jb20

?Found this great site, offers all kinds of IT Network Services, www.global-serve.com.?

reisen55
reisen55

Information technology professionals are nicely accustomed to Windows XP Professional and the two incarnations of Office: 2002 and 2003. Now we have a slow infiltration of Office 2007 and the non-event that was Vista, only making that situation worse because it is still around anyway. And now we have Windows 7, which we are slowly coming to understand and the unknown Office 2010. More hell, more of the same from Microsoft.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

The first point about dumping old tools could apply to any OS change. There's nothing that applies to W7. Ditto the second point. Most recent Windows releases have required changing deployment models, and the 're-image, not repair' solution has been viable since WinPE / BartPE / UBCD.

the-it-guy
the-it-guy

Agreed PERFECT time to get Clients to prepare for complete Software & Hardware Upgrades. But as Stability is Number One to me, this stuff just won't be relevant for some time yet. Sounds too much like sales Pitch to me!

Rikker000
Rikker000

Why get rid of VNC? VNC is sometimes a little clunky, but it's free and it crosses domains without issue. RDP is my usual choice within the network. I've tried LogMeIn Rescue and it works extremely well. The only problem is pricing. At $40 - $60 per user per month, it's a budget killer.

user support
user support

Our organization is not moving to Windows 7 at this time. We do however use unattended installs as part of our process to fix machines. I just wanted to point out so it is not taken for granted that sometimes a new install does not resolve a problem. Some issues that come to mind our employees that have problems with Outlook pst files on the network drives that are not in compliance with size standards. There are other Outlook issues and Word template issues as well that stem from the Microsoft Office products. In these cases the problem will reoccur after you re-install the operating system.

jgaskell
jgaskell

Bringing out all these new versions of stuff that we all have to learn about is just getting ridiculous. I joined the IT industry because I assumed I could just learn everything up front and then never have to learn anything new again for the rest of my life, then they go changing stuff all the time. This is not what I signed up for. Let's face it, anything you can't do on a PDP-11 isn't worth doing.

vtassone
vtassone

I'm getting ready to retire. Every time Micro$oft deceides to go to a new OS they change every thing for no good reason. Getting from point A to point B in the OS means learning a whole new map. I have to build a new computer, buy a new OS and sit down and learn a whole new game. Like I said, I'm getting out of this game. You young Bucks and Bucketts can have it. I'm going back to win98 SE. ;-)

TNT
TNT

I didn't hear about VNC going away, and I imagine you can still run vendor VNC software (Like CISCO). But take a look at DirectAccess, a feature of 7 that works with Server 2008 to provide access to network files from anywhere without the overhead of VNC.

aputorek
aputorek

I've been doing PC support for nearly 20 years and while I can look back fondly at OS's that have come and gone, I am excited about what new things are coming. That being said, as a support technician who runs a small store and service center I loved XP because it had a repair install feature that has been a life saver. I have been able to fix many issues without losing data or the need to reinstall every app. This feature is noticebly missing from Vista. I will in the next week be doing disaster recovery tests with W7 and I'd love to see the repair install option once again. We'll see.

tonycopp
tonycopp

An OS as useful as the Sorcerer's apprentice with dancing brooms...Micro$oft's version of Fantasia hit the fan today and only the stiffs cared. Sure I'll get rid of my trusted buds and pay up because..help me please. It looks so cool and my time is worthless so I'll run in place to get up to speed and hope that my critical apps work knowing that random memory allocation inherent in the code guarantees that it will crash whenever no matter what. Thanks, but no thanks; I have too much respect for my time.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"...I assumed I could just learn everything up front and then never have to learn anything new again for the rest of my life, ..." If you're joking, you forgot the 'smiley'. If you're serious, you've mistaken IT for Accounting.

reisen55
reisen55

That the PAST is always better. FAR from it. I have a copy of OS/2 Warp for amusement too. What I am saying is that the revisions are coming out way too fast for proper digestion of content. Particularly when Office 2002 was replaced by 2003? With huge differences in the way Outlook managed PST files too. Among other changes, this one was simply strange. We are given little time to stabilize an environment before Microsoft, feeling the need to maintain market share and control (shades of IBM in the mainframe days) HAS to come up with something new instead of keeping what does work, XP Professional, and making it better. A total revamp is not necessary. Why? Because most users, and most people, still go about their day in the same general fashion and ways - writing letters, email, etc and that does not change very much. All the nifty features may be eye candy (Vista had a ton of that) but these little nuggest do not change user functionality. For our side of the street, it means more work, more productive time lost as we pre-test and evaluate BEFORE commitment to a production environment (or did you install Vista right out of the box too, as Ballmer said you could...) all for? Nifty changes. I do not see much of a point to these eternal re-writes and reconstructs. Too fast people.

nick
nick

I think that you will find that to get the full benefits of Direct Access, especially remote support over VPN, that you will need an IP V6 network. I for one am not upgrading my network when VNC does a great job.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

What if I want to manipulate a user's desktop to troubleshoot a problem? From what I've been able to find out about DirectAccess, you will still need remote access software of some form.

reisen55
reisen55

Hey, you just employ them to drain the brain of all knowledge.... then, fire and Outsource to India. See, that's easy.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I hope your wife has a good time learning new ways to cook the books. Most 'professional' fields have a formal 'continuing education' requirement (including accounting). I think the lack of a single major central professional organization is why there isn't such a requirement for IT.

jgaskell
jgaskell

I thought the smiley redundant as it was so obvious (I always feel smileys are a bit like laughing at your own jokes). Good point about accountants - I must tell my accountant wife that one just before she attends yet another seminar on Friday. ;-)

KaryDavis
KaryDavis

...but I can't think of ANY profession where you aren't learning new aspects of the job all the time. The only thing that never changes, is the fact that everything always changes. When you stop learning, you are dead and have no need for a job. ;)

reisen55
reisen55

IF we isolate the upgrades per se, then there has been a long delay between XP and Vista. 5 years is acceptable. Remember though we are not an isolated upgrade arena here. We have upgrades to the operating system, to office applications, to our servers, to our Exchange servers and all of these converge in one way or another upon each other. That is what makes this upgrade cycle such a living hell. Linux is a wonderful operating system but conversion to that (!) would be a nightmare for my clients and even that presumes their third party applications would run in the new environment. My big complaint is that Microsoft presumes that their operating systems, which are the true bedrock upon which everything else resides, can somehow simply exist in it's own perfect world. I have medical offices wherein the patient management systems properly run on Windows XP and Heaven Forbid that Vista or Win7 somehow affects or changes the internal HIPAA compliant data. (Remember - and this was hardware - the first Pentium processor issue?) Such changes would be catastrophic indeed. And not just one application, but perhaps one of 5 applications. Or more.

jgaskell
jgaskell

"We are given little time to stabilize an environment before Microsoft, feeling the need to maintain market share and control (shades of IBM in the mainframe days) HAS to come up with something new instead of keeping what does work, XP Professional, and making it better." There was five years between XP and Vista. I really can't see how that is too fast, especially compared with the more frequent updates for Mac OS X or the six-monthly cycle of Ubuntu. If five years is not long enough to stablise an environment, then it will never be stable. Office is similar - four years between Office 2003 and 2007 hardly seems like rushing it to me. 2007 was significantly different to 2003, but prior to that the last few upgrades had been more gradual, so it is not like Microsoft is reinventing everything every couple of years. The gap between Vista and Windows 7 has been shorter, but Windows 7 is not a huge departure from Vista - certainly not as significant as the shift from XP to Vista. Windows 7 pretty much boils down to fixing the problems in Vista and making it what it should have been.

barbedwire
barbedwire

90% of my users feel the same way - they hate OS upgrades, because they are still doing the same thing the day after the upgrade as the day before, but they need to waste a bunch of time learning the new system. And then I have to patiently listen to the complaints, and show them how to use the "ribbon" or whatever other gratuitous change was made.

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