The big 27,000: Win7 ensnares Centrelink

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

About Suzanne Tindal

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 the site.

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  • "Vista was an abysmal failure in the enterprise space"

    Vista was an abysmal failure PERIOD; making the dead dog WinME look good. Once XP no longer serves its purpose, Linux (in almost any form), here I come.
  • After-thought--when is enough "enough"?

    Microsoft needs to spend as much time and resources on developing a "working" OS, and less time frustrating legitimate users with all the anti-piracy locks. They're making such so much $$$ anyway that a few naughty home users really don't make that much difference--by all means go after the commercial pirates, but be aware that I've rarely encountered or serviced a personal machine with a "pirated" copy contemporary Windows.
  • Windows is Dead

    Vista was a complete failure, and Windows 7 will be even more of a failure.

    In the home space, Chrome and Linux will destroy Windows over the coming years, the remainder will switch to Mac. The only thing holding people to Windows is games, and I think that will change soon.

    In the enterprise space, Microsoft will have a stronger hold because of the massive buy-in factor. A lot of investment has been made, so corporations and government will be reluctant to switch. The other problem is the low number of providers who supply and support Linux environments compared to Microsoft shops - certainly in Australia. However, changes in the home market would certainly have an effect on the enterprise market.
  • Visasta SP3

    Seriously, think of the savings to the tax payer if Centrelink switched to Linux. 27,000 licences plus the support costs of anti-virus, anti-malware. Win7 registry will still bloat given time requiring a rebuild. This shows that Microsoft must be really entrenched in the upper echelons of Australian management to consider such a move.
  • Ditto

    The registry is one of the worst thing about windows and still shows its ugly face windows 7.
    Anyone download a version + product key from pirate bay if they chose.
    The It people in govt deps must have no brains.
    Maybe they only know windows and nothing else.
  • No Brains

    I agree - Gov't employees (IT) have no brains...but, I've tested 5 flavors of Linux against Win7 over the past 9 months -- win7 wins thumbs up and hands down. I tested Photoshop, Autocad, MSOffice Suite, MSSQL 2005, Exchange Server 2003, MySQL 5.1 and OpenOffice 3.1Suite amongst other simpler programs -- run 20 to 40 percent faster on Windows 7 with stability being 50 percent better in Windows 7 than Linux. Windows 7 is totally better than Vista and I would now rank the latest KDE4.2 abortion with Vista. Linux is in the dump as for GUI Desktop operations. As a Commandline Server - Linux is King...but, mind you - that is without an GUI. For Exchange Server 2003 against Linux I used Windows 2008 Server with Outlook on Windows 7. That combo CANNOT be beat by anything Linux has to offer for the office environment - no matter how many users. Usefulness of Linux is definately not in the office...but, in the server room serving up files and html...that's about it.
  • Windows is Dead ???

    No it is not and I can say that definitively. Windows will be the most popular OS in the world long after you and I have lived out our life times. Linux developers are so not interested in what the people want that the people don't get a product that they care about. Microsoft gives the people what they want and always has -- even if it didn't function worth a crap. Linux has catered to the Geeks of the world who are a minortiy of buyers and have little or no money. Microsoft caters to the masses with money who are not Geeks or Nerds. These people give Microsoft billions of dollars. How many Linux XBoxes have you seen or WII boxes have you seen that are made from Linux? NONE!!! I thought so. There you have it. Microsoft wins big time. Now how about Touch Screen Tablet PC's??? Linux cannot even go there because there is not enough development dollars in the world to get it there before it's too late and M$ and Apple once again crush the Linux market -- because Linux developers are just toooo good to produce something the public actually wants or can use. Linux will never go away - but, it will never grow to the size of Microsoft's market place. That's just life. That's just the way it is. The same once was so with Apple...until Jobs started giving the people what it wanted and at a reasonable price. Linux developers are worse than Jobs with attitude. A dumb user cannot even get 10 minutes of time from a Linux Guru Geek of all knowledge people just don't play the game. Only a small market will ever exist for Linux because of "attitude" of the Linux Developer World.