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					                                             Windows 7
                                             Customer Solution Case Study

                                             Upgrade to Latest Operating System Yields
                                             Multiple Benefits for Small College

Overview                                     “Windows 7 is definitely making a difference at Thomas
Country or Region: United States
Industry: Education—Higher education
                                             College, both for end users and for our IT staff.”
                                              Christopher Rhoda, Vice President for Information Services and Chief Information Officer,
Customer P rofile                                                                                                      Thomas College
Thomas College is a small liberal arts
school in Waterville, Maine. The college
has approximately 1,100 undergraduate
and graduate students and 150 staff and      Thomas College, which bills itself as the only college in the
                                             United States to offer guaranteed job placement upon grad-
Business Situation                           uation, prides itself on providing students with access to the
To help facilitate its Guaranteed Job
Placement program, Thomas College
                                             most current computer software. As such, the college was one of
must provide students with access to the     the first to upgrade all of its PCs to the Windows 7 operating
most current computer technology.
                                             system. Coupled with independent adoption of Windows 7 by
Solution                                     students on their own systems, the college’s rapid rollout of
To prepare students for today’s work-
place, Thomas College upgraded all
                                             Windows 7 has delivered improvements in usability, PC startup
campus PCs to Windows 7 within months        and shutdown speeds, system responsiveness, battery life, reli-
of its release.
                                             ability, and security. Meanwhile, the college’s small IT team is
Benefits                                     benefiting from increased troubleshooting capabilities and 10
 Improved usability, speed, responsive-
  ness, and battery life
                                             percent fewer support incidents, leaving more time to focus on
 Increased security and reliability         new projects.
 Improved troubleshooting and
  reimaging in half the time
 Increased cost savings and IT efficiency

                                                                                                              Works the way you want
“My PC immediately                        Situation                                        With only three full-time staffers, the
                                          Thomas College, located in Waterville,           college’s small IT team is always looking for
became more responsive                    Maine, is a liberal arts college with            new ways to do more with less. “Increased
                                          approximately 1,100 undergraduate and            IT productivity is another big reason why
after installing Windows                  graduate students. The college’s IT infra-       we work to stay current on n ew technol-
7, including faster                       structure is supported by a full-time staff of   ogy,” says Rhoda. “A big part of our daily
                                          3 people, who are assisted by some 20            workload is supporting end-user desktops,
startup and shutdown                      student workers. Of the college’s 250            so anything we can do to improve security,
                                          desktop systems, approximately half are          reduce support calls, and minimize the
times…. I immediately                     desktop and portable PCs running the             number of systems to be reimaged leaves
saw many ways that                        Windows operating system. The other half         us with more time to work on new
                                          are thin client devices that connect to          projects.”
Windows 7 would make                      server computers running Windows Server
                                          Remote Desktop Services. The school’s IT         Solution
me more productive.”                      team also helps support an additional            Consistent with its focus on adopting the
  Christopher Rhoda, Vice President for   thousand or so PCs belonging to students.        latest information technology, Thomas
         Information Services and Chief                                                    College planned to upgrade to the
   Information Officer, Thomas College    Billing itself as the only college in the        Windows 7 Enterprise operating system as
                                          United States to offer guaranteed job            soon as it became commercially available.
                                          placement upon graduation, Thomas                “While we were happy with Windows Vista,
                                          College works hard to prepare students for       we really liked what we were hearing about
                                          today’s workplace—for instance, by provid-       Windows 7,” says Rhoda. “All of the positive
                                          ing access to the latest computer technol-       press really captured our interest so, upon
                                          ogy. As such, in 2008, the college upgraded      release of the beta version, we decided the
                                          all of its PCs from the Windows XP operat-       time had come to evaluate it ourselves.
                                          ing system to the Windows Vista operating        Given its ease of deployment and many
                                          system. The upgrade delivered significant        new and enhanced features, our decision to
                                          increases in productivity and security for       upgrade the entire campus after a short
                                          end users, and reduced the number of             evaluation period was an easy one.”
                                          system images to be maintained from eight
                                          to one.                                          Evaluation Pro cess
                                                                                           To evaluate Windows 7, Rhoda installed the
                                          “When it comes to desktop software, our          beta version on his own PC, which took half
                                          students are the primary drivers,” says          as long as the installation of Win dows Vista.
                                          Christopher Rhoda, Vice President for            “My PC immediately became more respon -
                                          Information Services and Chief Information       sive after installing Windows 7, including
                                          Officer, who has worked at the institution       faster startup and shutdown times,” recalls
                                          for 22 years. “Many students buy new             Rhoda. “I also liked how the new Jump Lists
                                          laptops in the summer after high school          and Windows Taskbar made navigation
                                          graduation, which means they’ll be running       more intuitive. I immediately saw many
                                          the latest version of Windows when they          ways that Windows 7 would make me more
                                          start college in the fall. We need to teach      productive.”
                                          them using the same technologies that
                                          they’ll be using on their own PCs for the        In July 2009, when Windows 7 was released
                                          next four years—as well as the ones they’ll      to manufacturing, Rhoda decided to have
                                          encounter in the workplace upon                  the rest of his IT department evaluate it, as
                                          graduation.”                                     well as a small group of school staffers.

                                                                                                               Works the way you want
“Features such as                         “We chose a half-dozen or so users in           2009—a few weeks ahead of the schedule,
                                          different offices and either reimaged their     which called for the upgrade to be com-
Windows Defender in                       systems or installed Windows 7 as an            pleted by the end of winter break when a
                                          upgrade,” he says. “Virtually all of the        new semester begins. “I don’t know an IT
Windows 7 and the new                     feedback aligned with my initial percep-        person in education who doesn’t hold their
SmartScreen Filter in                     tions, in that everyone found Windows 7 to      breath on the first day of the semester,”
                                          be more responsive and easier to use.”          says Rhoda. “By the end of that first day, we
Internet Explorer 8 help                                                                  knew that our deployment of Windows 7
                                          Rhoda’s team also used the informal pilot       had been successful.”
keep students’ PCs more                   phase to check application compatibility—
secure. Not only is this                  again with positive results. “We deployed a     Meanwhile, students are rapidly adopting
                                          mix of 32-bit and 64-bit systems in differ-     Windows 7 on their own systems, as Rhoda
beneficial to students,                   ent areas, such as in our computer labs,”       can tell from the log files provided by
                                          says Rhoda. “We found a few applications        Windows Server Update Services. “We push
but also it reduces the                   that didn’t run in a 64-bit environment and     out software updates to all computers on
burden placed on our                      simply reimaged those systems using the         our network—both college-owned and
                                          32-bit version of Windows 7. We didn’t          student laptops,” says Rhoda. “Log files
support staff.”                           have any compatibility issues at all with the   show that about 25 percent of all 1,100
                                          32-bit version, which isn’t surprising con -    students are already running Windows 7.”
  Christopher Rhoda, Vice President for
         Information Services and Chief   sidering that Windows 7 is built on the
   Information Officer, Thomas College    same foundation as Windows Vista.”              Server So ftware Upg rades
                                                                                          Thomas College also is upgrading some of
                                          The pilot period also showed that hardware      its server computers from the Windows
                                          compatibility wasn’t an issue. “We had          Server 2008 operating system to Windows
                                          absolutely no issues with our current           Server 2008 R2 Standard or Windows
                                          hardware,” says Rhoda. “In fact, Windows 7      Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, including the
                                          ran better on our current hardware than         servers that support its 125 or so thin client
                                          Windows Vista, even with some of those          devices. “Windows Server 2008 provided a
                                          systems being up to four years old.”            user interface similar to Windows Vista,
                                                                                          whereas Windows Server 2008 R2 has the
                                          Campuswide Deploymen t                          Windows 7 look and feel,” explains Rhoda.
                                          Full deployment of Windows 7 began in the       “By upgrading our terminal servers to
                                          fall of 2009, during which IT staffers and      Windows Server 2008 R2, we’re able to
                                          student workers used a combination of           deliver many of the user experience
                                          reimaging and in-place upgrades, both           enhancements provided by Windows 7
                                          done manually, as time allowed. “Our            to the users of our thin client devices.”
                                          budget didn’t allow for a Microsoft partner
                                          to assist with the upgrade, so we did it all    The college upgraded its virtualized server
                                          by ourselves,” says Rhoda. “Fortunately,        environment to Windows Server 2008 R2
                                          Microsoft provides a wealth of knowledge        Standard with Hyper-V technology, as well.
                                          and tools to guide and assist with these        Managed using Microsoft System Center
                                          kinds of tasks. The resources on Microsoft      Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2, the
                                          TechNet keep getting better and better,         environment consists of some 24 virtual
                                          and we rely on them heavily.”                   machines running on 8 server blades.
                                                                                          “Microsoft System Center products such
                                          Deployment of Windows 7 to all 125 PCs          as Virtual Machine Manager and Config-
                                          was finished by the last week in December       uration Manager are integral to our IT

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“We can reimage PCs                       management strategy,” says Rhoda.                Imp roved Usabi lity, Speed,
                                          “Virtualization makes our server infra-          Responsiveness, and Battery Life
with Windows 7 in 30                      structure much easier to manage and              The college’s upgrade to Windows 7 has
                                          support, while tools like Configuration          increased usability by making everyday
minutes, which is half the                Manager enable us to deploy new desktop          tasks such as navigation faster and easier.
time it took with                         software with just a few mouse clicks.”          “The enhanced Windows Taskbar is a
                                                                                           personal favorite because it puts what I
Windows Vista. The                        For instance, after the Windows 7 deploy-        want to do right at my fingertips,” says
                                          ment, Thomas College used System Center          Rhoda. “I can pin programs to the Windows
drivers included with                     Configuration Manager to automatically           Taskbar for faster access, and can use the
Windows 7 are better,                     push out additional software programs that       live taskbar thumbnails to quickly find the
                                          were not included in the base image, as          window I want when I have several open.
too, which means fewer                    well as any application updates that were        The new Jump Lists on the Windows
                                          released after the image was created.            Taskbar and Start menu are great, too, in
issues to troubleshoot                                                                     that they make it easy to quickly access
after the image is                        “We use System Center Configuration              recently used files.”
                                          Manager to inventory hardware and
applied.”                                 software for PCs and servers, and to             Users also like the desktop enhancements
                                          advertise and automatically install many         in Windows 7, such as Peek, which makes
  Christopher Rhoda, Vice President for
         Information Services and Chief   applications and updates—including               all open windows transparent when the
   Information Officer, Thomas College    updates to non-Microsoft software such as        user moves the pointer over the far end of
                                          Adobe Reader,” says Rhoda. “This provides        the taskbar. “The desktop enhancements
                                          users with the latest versions within a few      make it easier to work with several windows
                                          hours after an update is released. It also       at once,” says Rhoda. “For example, Shake
                                          helps us keep track of which computers           minimizes all other windows on my screen
                                          have which applications, which is especially     when I grab one window and shake it. The
                                          helpful when only a certain number of            Snap feature is great, too, making it easy to
                                          licenses have been purchased. We also            maximize a window or compare the
                                          strongly recommend that students install         contents of two windows side by side.
                                          the Configuration Manager agent, which           When you use your computer as much as I
                                          many of them do.”                                do, little enhancements like these are really
                                          Through its early adoption of the latest         Users also are benefiting from improved
                                          operating system, Thomas College is              speed and responsiveness compared with
                                          retaining its position as a college that         the earlier operating system. “We’ve seen
                                          provides students and staff with the             significant improvements in the speed with
                                          software that they need to succeed. Since        which PCs start, shut down, and resume
                                          rolling out Windows 7, the college has           from sleep state,” says Rhoda. “This is
                                          experienced improvements in usability, PC        probably most appreciated by students,
                                          startup and shutdown speeds, system              many of whom carry their laptops around
                                          responsiveness, battery life, reliability, and   all day. We’ve also noticed that Win dows 7
                                          security. Meanwhile, the college’s small IT      uses memory much more effectively, ena-
                                          team is benefiting from increased trouble-       bling users to run more concurrent pro-
                                          shooting capabilities and fewer support          grams or work with larger files before
                                          incidents, leaving more time to focus on         performance is affected.”
                                          new projects.

                                                                                                              Works the way you want
“Time is money, and the                   Because most students have portable           add-on causes a tab to stop responding,
                                          computers, the way that Windows 7 helps       only that tab is affected. The browser itself
way that Windows 7 has                    extend battery life is also a plus. “The      remains stable and other tabs remain unaf-
                                          optimizations in Windows 7 designed to        fected. With tab recovery, if one or more
reduced support calls by                  reduce power use are a huge benefit,” says    tabs close unexpectedly, the tabs are
at least 10 percent gives                 Rhoda. “For example, Windows 7 reduces        automatically reloaded.
                                          background activities and supports the
us more time to focus on                  trigger-starting of system services, so the   Rhoda points to the improvements in User
                                          PC can be idle more often —and when PCs       Account Control as another benefit. “We
new projects.”                            are idle, they use less power. The way that   keep school-owned PCs fairly locked down,
  Christopher Rhoda, Vice President for   Windows 7 automatically reduces display       and the introduction of User Account
         Information Services and Chief   brightness when users are inactive also       Control in Windows Vista gave IT staff a
   Information Officer, Thomas College    helps conserve power. People may not be       good way to work with this,” says Rhoda.
                                          aware of all the power-saving enhance-        “In Windows 7, users don’t see as many
                                          ments in Windows 7, but they’re definitely    User Account Control messages because
                                          benefiting from them by being able to use     fewer operating system programs and tasks
                                          their laptops in more classes before having   require approval to run.”
                                          to recharge.”
                                                                                        The college also plans on taking advantage
                                          Increased Security and Reliab ility           of BitLocker To Go, a new feature in
                                          Thomas College is benefiting from built-in    Windows 7 Enterprise that extends
                                          security features in Windows 7 and the        BitLocker drive encryption to USB flash
                                          Windows Internet Explorer 8 Internet          drives and external hard disk drives.
                                          browser (included in Windows 7) that help     “People on school PCs aren’t supposed to
                                          safeguard users’ PCs—especially students’     store sensitive data locally,” explains Rhoda.
                                          own PCs, which are not always protected by    “If they do, we use BitLocker to protect the
                                          the mechanisms that help secure the           data. BitLocker To Go will enable us to
                                          campus’s network. “When students are          extend that encryption to removable stor-
                                          behind our firewall, they’re fairly well      age devices, giving us some protection if
                                          protected,” says Rhoda. “However, when        those devices are lost, stolen, or misused.”
                                          they go home for break, they come back
                                          with all kinds of PC infections. Features     Imp roved Troubleshooting and Faster
                                          such as Windows Defender in Windows 7         Reimaging
                                          and the new SmartScreen Filter in Internet    With Windows 7, the college is better able
                                          Explorer 8 help keep students’ PCs more       to troubleshoot PCs—and, if necessary, to
                                          secure. Not only is this beneficial to        quickly reimage them. “We can reimage
                                          students, but also it reduces the burden      PCs with Windows 7 in 30 minutes, which is
                                          placed on our support staff.”                 half the time it took with Windows Vista,”
                                                                                        says Rhoda. “The drivers in cluded with
                                          Deployment of Internet Explorer 8 also is     Windows 7 are better, too, which means
                                          delivering a more reliable Web browsing       fewer issues to troubleshoot after the
                                          experience. “Tabbed browsing was a great      image is applied.”
                                          enhancement in Internet Explorer 7, and
                                          the new tab isolation and automatic tab       Rhoda points to the new Problem Steps
                                          recovery features in Internet Explorer 8      Recorder in Windows 7 as another useful
                                          further enhance the experience,” says         troubleshooting tool. “End users aren’t
                                          Rhoda. With tab isolation, if a Web site or   known for great detail or accuracy in

                                                                                                            Works the way you want
describing the problems they encounter,”
says Rhoda. “The Problem Steps Recorder
has been a great help in this area. We show
people how to use it, and that gives us the
information we need to more quickly and
efficiently solve the problem.”

Increased Cost Savings and IT Efficien cy
By taking advantage of cost-saving features
such as those designed to decrease power
usage, the college is minimizing costs. “We
are always looking for ways to reduce
energy costs, and are making aggressive
use of the Windows 7 Group Policy settings
in this area,” Rhoda says.

Rhoda also cites the possibility of extend-
ing useful hardware life as a potential cost-
savings benefit. “We’re always looking for
ways to reduce costs, and a delayed PC
replacement cycle is one way to achieve
that goal …. I’ve heard from some peers in
primary and secondary education that
Windows 7 has enabled them to breathe
new life into PCs that weren’t capable of
running Windows Vista.”

To Rhoda, however, the biggest savings is
the time savings that the upgrade to
Windows 7 has provided for his small IT
team. “Ti me is money, and the way that
Windows 7 has reduced support calls by at
least 10 percent gives us more time to
focus on new projects,” says Rhoda. “I can’t
quantify the time savings in dollars, but I
can say with certainty that, since the move
to Windows 7, other IT projects are getting
done at a faster rate. Windows 7 is defi-
nitely making a difference at Thomas
College, both for end users and for our IT

                                                Works the way you want
For More Information                                  Windows 7
For more information about Microsoft                  Works the way you want: Windows 7 will
products and services, call the Microsoft             help your organization use information
Sales Information Center at (800) 426-                technology to gain a competitive
9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft                   advantage in today’s new world of work.
Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-               Your people will be able to be more
2495. Customers in the United States and              productive anywhere. You will be able to
Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing                support your mobile work force with better
can reach Microsoft text telephone                    access to shared data and collaboration
(TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234.                 tools. And your IT staff will have better
Outside the 50 United States and                      tools and technologies to enhance
Canada, please contact your local                     corporate IT security, data protection,
Microsoft subsidiary. To access                       and more efficient deployment and
information using the World Wide Web,                 management.
go to:                                     For more information about Windows 7, go
For more information about Thomas           
College, visit the Web site at:

                                                       Software and Services                          Technologies
                                                        Windows 7 Enterprise                          − Windows Internet Explorer 8
                                                        Microsoft Server Product Portfolio
                                                         − Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
                                                         − Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard
                                                         − Microsoft System Center
                                                           Configuration Manager 2007
                                                         − Microsoft System Center Virtual
                                                           Machine Manager 2008 R2

This case study is for informational purposes only.

Document published April 2010
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