Implementation of Windows 7: An update

by Joe Lee
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We have announced our tentative implementation plan of Windows 7 through various channels, including Network Computing (“Windows 7 – A First Glimpse”, Network Computing Issue 61 - September 2009), notification to Departmental Network Administrators of departments (early November) and network message to all staff in mid-November. Due to the overwhelming response to Windows 7, the Computing Services Centre (CSC) has revised its implementation plan to meet users’ needs. Basically, we have speeded up the implementation in Lecture Theatres (LTs) and Classrooms, making all of them available before Semester B commences. In addition, we have significantly moved the implementation ahead in the Staff LAN environment. The Windows 7 prototype for Staff LAN will be finalized this month and it will be deployed to CSC machines for trial run in January 2010. Formal support of Windows 7 is expected to be offered in March 2010 instead of summer if most offices/units have sorted out the compatibility issue of their acquired or in-house developed applications.

1. Teaching and Learning

The following table depicts our current implementation schedule:

Location

Completion Date

CSC Teaching Studios

Room A, B

21/12/2009

Room D, E

 

22/12/2009

Room F, G

23/12/2009

Room P

24/12/2009

Room I, J

28/12/2009

Room K, L

29/12/2009

Room H

30/12/2009

Room Q

31/12/2009

Printing, Scanner, Service Counter

4-8/1/2010

Library

Information Space

4/1/2010

Learning Commons

5-7/1/2010

LTs and Classrooms

LT 1-18

Completed

Classrooms

8/1/2010

Obviously, Windows 7 is guaranteed to be available in all CSC-managed computers for open access in Semester B.

Windows7 replaces Windows Vista while Windows XP remains intact
The implementation of Windows 7 will not affect the existing Windows XP environment. However, Windows 7 will directly replace the existing Windows Vista environment for the following reasons:

  1. Windows 7 and Windows Vista have the same kernel and therefore, most software applications running on the Windows Vista environment can also run smoothly on Windows 7.
  2. Windows 7 outperforms Windows Vista in terms of boot up time, security, user friendliness, and others.
  3. Due to limitation of hardware resources and manpower, it is undesirable to support more than two operating environments.

The computing environments for teaching and learning in Semester B
For PCs in the CSC Teaching Studios, Library’s Information Space and Learning Commons:

  • Windows XP environment connecting the Student LAN (IE7 browser)
  • Windows 7 environment connecting the Student LAN (IE8 browser)

For PCs in LT and Classrooms

  • Windows XP environment connecting the LT LAN (IE7 browser)
  • Windows 7 environment connecting the LT LAN (IE8 browser)
  • Local XP environment (only for local presentation, no network connection)

Applications available in Windows 7
Existing software applications installed on the CSC Student LAN for Windows Vista will be made available for Windows 7. For details, please visit http://www.cityu.edu.hk/csc/deptweb/facilities/terminal-area/software.htm

Getting familiar with Windows 7
While the user interface of Windows 7 looks familiar and is easy to use, its default web browser is Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) instead of IE7. As such, staff members are still recommended to gain some experience in using Windows 7 and IE8 before conducting their classes. They can either use computers mentioned in the above areas according to the completion dates or set up testing machines in their computer labs by using the Windows 7 software media recently distributed to the departments. Staff may also exercise the “Work at Home Rights (WAH)” to upgrade their home computers to Windows 7 to have a taste of it. For terms and conditions of WAH, please visit http://www.cityu.edu.hk/csc/stafflan/ms-license.htm .

2. Staff LAN

There are two approaches to implement Windows 7: direct upgrade and fresh install. The upgrade approach has distinct advantages that the installation of Windows 7 will not destroy user’s existing applications, settings, customizations and data. Microsoft provides the upgrade option for machines running Windows Vista. The time required for direct upgrade varies, depending mainly on hardware performance. However, there is no upgrade option for machines running Windows XP and therefore, all Windows XP machines must perform a fresh install. Users are required to backup applications, drivers and data on Windows XP before doing so.

The CSC is going to finalize the upgrade prototype for Windows Vista machines. It will be tested and fine tuned in January. If everything goes smoothly, an option will be put up on the Work Desk menu for staff to perform the upgrade in March. To help users get familiar with Windows 7, we have scheduled some training classes which can be applied through the University e-Portal. More classes will be added if necessary.

Events

Tentative Schedule

Preparation - Upgrading McAfee to 8.7i campus-wide

Semester Break

Prototyping - Upgrading to Windows 7 from Windows Vista

December 2009

Pilot run - Upgrading CSC staff machines

January 2010

Formal support of Windows 7

March 2010

Training

22/1, 19/2, 19/3, 23/4, 4/6

 

3. Summary

As some university software (including in-house developed applications, the e-learning system and administration systems) are known to be incompatible with Windows 7, the CSC cannot formally support and widely deploy Windows 7 in campus until support units have resolved these compatibility issues with the respective software developers. Nevertheless, Windows 7 will surely be available for teaching and learning in Semester B while its implementation for staff use will probably be in March 2010.