Friday, May 8, 2009

Skipping Vista

I beta tested Windows 7 for the last couple months and I have been testing Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) and am very please so far. If you want to try out Windows 7 you can get the Windows 7 RC download here and the license is good until June 1, 2010. You can use the PC World tool to see if your PC is ready for Windows 7. There is even an Adobe Reader for Windows 7 already.

I am running Windows 7 RC1 on a virtual machine that I have assigned 32 GB of hard rive and 1 GB of RAM. All of our clinical applications (Meditech, APTA Connect, PtCT, etc.) seem to work fine. I have had some trouble with NextGen, but using terminal services (which is how we publish this application generally) works great. For applications that will not run in Windows 7 you can use Windows 7 XP Mode, a virtualized version of Windows XP that runs on Windows 7. My experience has been that Windows 7 XP Mode is better than running XP virtualized on a Vista system.

I will be trying Windows 7 on a spare hard drive on an Optiplex desktop later this month to see if I run into any driver compatibility issues. I plan to thoroughly investigate the use of this OS on our Active Directory domain with standard hardware configurations before next year when the final version is released.

We are a Dell shop and run Windows XP on almost all of our over 500 workstations. Licenses for both Vista Business and Ultimate allow users to downgrade to XP so we have only deployed Vista on a few Information Systems (IS) machines and our CEO. We have had some difficulty with log in times and driver compatibility trying to use Vista thoughout the enterprise. Microsoft will continue to allow Dell downgrading Vista systems to XP so we will continue to purchase them. A memo leaked from Microsoft does suggest that Dell should be clear with customers about future XP support:

"It’s important to remind customers that Microsoft are still planning to retire XP Pro Mainstream support on April 14, 2009 and will only provide OS security updates beyond that date unless the customer has an Extended Hotfix Support contract. MS Extended Support for XP Pro ends on April 8th, 2014."

Obviously the Microsoft roadmap is going to push us along past XP at some point. So far I have found Windows 7 to be our best next step. I will continue testing Windows 7 and deploying XP desktops, notebooks and tablets, while watching carefully to ensure that as we build out interoperability with our EHR and develop a Health Information Exchange, we are using the most appropriate OS. I have a strong feeling we will be skipping Vista...

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