Windows 7 in Africa
Q1: Can you start by outlining the new and changed features of Windows 7 that may be particularly useful in the African business environment?
There are three main areas in which Windows 7 has concentrated its efforts to be more useful to business. The first is to make everyday tasks simpler. You can scan all your open windows with Live Taskbar Previews, find a file, connect to a network, or arrange windows side by side to compare them quickly and easily. This makes users far more productive.
Secondly, Windows 7 makes your PC work the way you want it to. It lets you use more of your older programs with Windows XP Mode, protects your data better than ever, and is more secure with less effort. It’s also easier to synchronise and manage your networks and various connected devices.
Finally, Windows 7 helps you to do new things. It takes advantage of new technologies, such as using a touch-screen instead of a mouse, and Location-Aware Printing, which picks up where you are, and automatically sends your documents to the right printer.
Q2: What aspects of the technology are business-enhancing?
The big thing about Windows 7 is that it delivers the key capabilities that our business customers around the world have asked for: making people more productive and giving them the ability to work anytime, anywhere; providing the tools that companies need to support their business securely and protect corporate data; and helping them take advantage of trends like virtualisation and cloud computing.
According to recent studies, information workers spend 15-30 percent of their time looking for information. About 60 percent of those say they need to be able to find information easier across multiple data sources. Windows 7 allows users to search across different sites, while initiating a search easily from Windows Explorer, getting a consistent view of search results.
Of course, Windows 7 also helps companies save money and work more efficiently. One way of doing this is to optimise their desktop infrastructure by making it easier to deploy, secure and manage their desktop environments. This means full time IT employees spend less time on the routine task of managing PCs.
Businesses are also enjoying the ability to make their employees productive from wherever they are: home, on the road, or in a branch office. Windows 7, along with networking technologies in Windows Server 2008 R2, enables the user to easily access corporate network resources when on the Internet without having to create a virtual private connection first, reducing disruption and time.
Over and above this, Windows 7 increases user productivity for remote employees by caching a copy of their files locally - so when other users access the file, they access the local one, instead of waiting for that long download.
Q3: Tell us more about Windows 7’s enhanced security and control.
Windows 7 builds on a really solid security foundation. What it does is give IT departments the ability to protect corporate data better, and enable easy and cost-effective compliance with security policies. For example, Windows 7 provides the ability to encrypt removable storage devices, such as USB drives, which ensures the data is secure even if the device is lost or stolen.
Q4: How can adopting Windows 7 help businesses maximise investments and save costs?
The state of the economy, the worldwide financial crisis and ever-tightening budgets has put cost efficiencies right at the top of most IT departments’ priorities. Key areas where Windows 7 helps companies save money include enhanced productivity, reduced bandwidth costs and improved desktop management practices.
Early adopters of Windows 7 are reporting that simply by improving their desktop management practices, they are achieving cost savings of hundreds of dollars per PC per year. Windows 7 does this by offering customers built-in tools and technologies that help them adopt best practices, optimise their desktop infrastructures, achieve efficiencies and realise cost savings.
Q5: Do you have any particularly successful examples of African firms benefitting from upgrading to Windows 7?
We have some really good case studies in South Africa already. These include computer distributors Comztek and Mustek, and government’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).
DIRCO has rolled out Windows 7 on 3500 desktops around the world from a single PC in Pretoria, while Comztek has seen major savings in hardware upgrades that resulted from the Windows 7 rollout. The much faster interface in Windows 7 has breathed new life into their older machines, negating the need to replace or upgrade these for at least another year.