Netbooks worth the upgrade to Windows 7? Heck yes!

For those who are still using XP Home in our netbook deployments, the $70 volume academic license upgrade is worth the cost of admission. $70 a pop can add up quickly, but in schools wedded to a Windows ecosystem, the advent of a netbook-capable, solid, secure OS in Windows 7 Professional is a welcome upgrade.

I haven't been a hugely vocal early adopter as far as the Windows 7 hype goes. As with many Microsoft upgrades, I'm happy to let them trickle in via new hardware after extensive testing with our critical systems. Fortunately, an extremely stable release candidate has been kicking around for quite a while and I'm not too fussed about how 7 will function with the average set of applications.

Regular readers will know that I'm also not too fussed about 7 in general, since so many good alternatives are available. As I wrote the day that 7 launched, "Windows 7 is just another OS." Windows XP is still chugging along, most of us have figured out how to get Vista to behave nicely, OS X is slick and stable, and Ubuntu 9.10 is just around the corner. Competition is our friend, right?

There's one place, though, where an upgrade is definitely in order and it should probably happen sooner than later: netbooks. Most netbooks ship with Windows XP Home Edition, which performs relatively well on an Atom processor, but which also lacks any sort of reasonable enterprise features. Lots of us have deployed netbooks in schools, whether through traditional vendors or in Classmate incarnations, and have simply lived with the shortcomings of XP Home (no domain join, security vulnerabilities, no management capabilities via Active Directory, lack of granular user security, etc.). Others have bitten the licensing bullet and upgraded their netbook deployments to XP Professional already.

For those who haven't, though, and are still using XP Home, the $70 volume academic license upgrade is worth the cost of admission. $70 a pop can add up quickly, but in deployments wedded to a Windows ecosystem, the advent of a netbook-capable, solid, secure OS in Windows 7 Professional is a welcome upgrade.

Although Intel has noted in the past that Classmates and most of their software ecosystem runs well under 7, but has not released plans yet to formally support 7 on their Classmates. However, for the many non-Classmate deployments out there, assuming that Ubuntu isn't an option for any number of reasons, schools should seriously consider leaving XP Home behind and taking advantage of the full complement of enterprise and security features in Windows 7. New tools from Microsoft should make this process relatively painless on computers without optical drives. Other migrations? They can wait for the first service pack.

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