The big 27,000: Win7 ensnares Centrelink

Summary:As Microsoft launches Windows 7 in Australia, major federal welfare agency Centrelink is planning to migrate tothe new operating system by mid next year. Will other companies follow its example, or will Microsoft see the same lack of interest for Windows 7 as it did for Vista?

As Microsoft launches Windows 7 in Australia, major federal welfare agency Centrelink has revealed plans to adopt the brand new operating system as its internal standard by the middle of 2010, in one of the world's biggest roll-outs known so far. But will other companies follow its example, or will Microsoft see the same lack of interest for Windows 7 as it did for Vista?

(Screenshot by Renai Lemay/

Centrelink has said previously that it was testing the operating system and that it showed a "significant improvement over [the] performance and quality of Vista". It intended to move to the new operating system in the long term. Those plans have been put on fast forward, as the agency has now confirmed plans to move to Windows 7 for its over 27,000 desktops in the near future.

"Centrelink will migrate to Windows 7 as the standard for desktops throughout its network by around mid-2010," the agency told this week.

Centrelink isn't the only organisation to decide to move to Windows 7. Microsoft has also secured the NSW Department of Education's agreement to roll out Windows 7 for its staff, and also onto the student laptops provided by the Digital Education Revolution. Queensland's student laptops will also be moving onto the product.

Those two roll-outs alone will mean the sale of hundreds of thousands of operating system licences. Microsoft must be counting its lucky stars, especially after the performance of Vista, which was widely shunned by the corporate environment. "Vista was an abysmal failure in the enterprise space," Intelligent Business Research Services advisor Joseph Sweeney says. Only 15 per cent of enterprises at the most deployed Vista, he says, the federal Customs and Border Protection service and iiNet being examples.

Organisations had clung to XP despite its getting long in the tooth, forcing Microsoft to lengthen the amount of time it supported the popular operating system and to allow customers to downgrade their Vista licences to XP.

But XP is now almost 10 years old and the strain is beginning to show, especially around issues of desktop management, which Sweeney says is much better handled by Windows 7. "Windows 7 has come in at a time when there's been a lot of demand for change," he says.

Indeed, according to a survey of 192 Australian CIOs or IT managers carried out by Microsoft partner Data#3, 67 per cent of enterprise customers (1000 seats or more) and 87 per cent of mid market customers (100 to 1000 seats) said they would consider moving to Windows 7 in the next 12 months. Data#3 takes this to mean that the old habit of waiting for Service Pack One before deploying an operating system is a thing of the past.

Despite these figures, Sweeney doesn't believe there will be a rush to Windows 7. His belief is backed up by the responses of many companies to queries.

National Australia Bank, despite testing 40 of its applications against Windows 7 and praising the operating system, hasn't jumped to plan a migration.

"From the testing and work that has been implemented to date, the bank is confident that Windows 7 would be capable of providing the operating platform for the next generation corporate desktop. However, an upgrade of this scale would take substantial time and effort and decisions on this would have to be aligned with other business priorities and initiatives," a spokesperson for the bank said.

The Australian Taxation Office has also decided to bide its time. "We want to understand the experience in the industry before we go to Windows 7," a spokesperson for the office said. "We are planning to migrate at some state to a new operating system, but no decision has been made yet."

The Department of Defence is just watching and waiting at this point. "Defence has not undertaken any evaluation of the Windows 7 product. Defence will be watching with interest on the uptake of this product to inform future decisions," a spokesperson for the department said.

Telstra said earlier this year that it intended on moving to the new operating system. Yet the telco's CIO John McInerney says the move won't be speedy. "It's definitely part of our roadmap," he said. "We have done a lot of testing and there's more testing to be done. Obviously it's an important change and therefore we will not be rushing it."

Topics: Windows, CXO, Government : AU, IT Priorities


Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for t... Full Bio

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