Whenever Microsoft first release a new version of Windows there is always a massive debate on the subject. Is the new release an improvement or is it just a fancy new interface filling the cracks? Unfortunately Windows Vista was widely regarded as a step in the wrong direction and industry and education alike were unenthusiastic to replace the tried and tested Windows XP. Vista was somewhat of a system resource hog and many institutions weren’t keen on migrating as a lot of desktop hardware would have to be replaced or upgraded just to provide the same desktop performance in Vista that XP users expected. As with most organisations Edge Hill evaluated Windows Vista and concluded it wouldn’t be a worthwhile change while XP was still an option so the decision was made to depend on XP and hope that the inevitable Vista sequel is a game changer.
Fortunately Microsoft were very aware of Vista’s shortcomings and there were soon alpha releases of their latest OS circulating the internet. Soon dubbed Windows 7, the new version carried the many hopes for businesses who were facing the inevitable end of Microsoft support for XP. Windows 7 turned out to be the answer to our collective prayers. Keeping the majority of the positives from Vista but maintaining the stability and performance of XP, Windows 7 was soon on the agenda.
IT upgrades in Higher Education are usually saved for the summertime when the majority of full time students are on their summer break. With term time only staff and a lot of the academics also on leave it is the perfect time for any significant changes to be made. Windows 7 came too late for us to perform the upgrade during the summer of 2010 so it was pushed on to 2011. We spent the time in between testing software packages and getting up to speed on what needs doing to make the upgrade as simple as possible. As it happens the back end systems were also being reconsidered and our Core Services team started investigating the replacement of our Novell Edirectory services with Microsoft Active Directory. With Novell support for Windows 7 unlikely to be adequate for our deployment we could well be looking at our Windows 7 desktop deployment being supported by a Active Directory server 2008 infrastructure.
Needless to say there is a lot of work ahead for all the teams in IT Services and a very busy summer to look forward to. I’m sure there will be a lot more to post on here once we have a final schedule arranged and we can begin work on a live Active Directory environment.