Windows XP Offers Enterprise Advantages
Although Windows XP is a desktop OS and many of theflashiest new features target home users, it still offers compelling reasons tomove from older client versions, particularly Windows 95 and 98. Betterperformance, reliability, and feature sets can all introduce cost savings andproductivity gains.
“Enterprises using Windows 95 or 98 on the clients willsee much improved performance on the client end,” says Peter Wengert, globaldirector, manufacturing industry, at MicrosoftCorp. With better performance, workers can complete tasks faster orapproach new types of tasks impossible on older operating systems.
Although Microsoft positions Windows NT and 2000 as itscorporate operating systems, Windows 9x versions are still widely used incorporations. Now that Microsoft has finished the task of integrating the NTand 9x code bases, enterprises can be assured their applications will run onthe business platform.
Microsoft also worked to improve the reliability ofWindows with XP. “XP is definitely more reliable than any previous operatingsystem,” Wengert says. Better reliability can improve productivity by reducingthe amount of data lost due to crashes or reboots and reduce support costs.
For example, Microsoft eliminated about eighty rebootscenarios, such as adding hardware, drivers, and applications. Situations wherea 9x operating system forced the user to reboot are gone, reducing the time aworker spends away from tasks and reducing the time it takes an administratorto update a system.
Windows XP also adds features to help administratorsmanage systems in the enterprise. The Remote Assistance feature allows supportpersonnel to gain control of an end-user machine to diagnose and solveproblems. The end-user can show the administrator a situation when the machinefails, and the administrator can take control to adjust setting or replace adriver. “This is saving thousands of dollars or millions of dollars forenterprises managing computers around the world,” Wengert says.
The Windows Update feature, which automaticallysearches for updates and patches from Microsoft, can be customized by theenterprise. If a company wants to qualify patches before deploying themcompany-wide, it can download them to a test machine, then use the feature tolater distribute the patch. In addition, if the company believes updates forapplications like Windows Media Player are counterproductive, it can set it toblock those updates.
Remote access features promise to help remote workersand persons who occasionally work from home have better access to projects andcorporate data. With Remote Desktop a worker traveling can gain access to thedesktop of his office machine over the Internet. Windows treats the remotemachine as a network-shared drive. In addition, remote documents can be printedlocally through printer redirection feature. Windows XP also offers a web-basedversion of Remote Desktop, so users can access office machines from any computer.
Internet features can also ease desktop managementissues. XP now supports multiple internet connections, so workers who travelfrequently can set up laptops for both the office Ethernet and a dial-upconnection. Wengert says the built-in firewall can enhance the security of bothoffice workers and teleworkers. The firewall defines what kinds of data canflow through the computer, reducing the chances of hack attacks or data theft.
A new facet of the Windows XP product can helpenterprises, although it is not a feature, per se. Wengert says Microsoftintroduced a new Logo program with the OS, “Designed for XP.” While other logoprograms require developers to submit applications and pay fees to a thirdparty such as Verisign, the “Designed for XP,” logo uses a downloadable programto check an application to see if it meets the standards. Wengert saysenterprises who use many home-grown applications may find the tool useful forensuring an application meets best practices, a common need in the manufacturingspace. “Fifty per cent of applications are home-grown in the manufacturingindustry,” he says. –Chris McConnell