The release of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 is imminent, its beta out to testers already, but many organisations are not even waiting for SP1 and are either moving today or beginning the planning for imminent migration. So what's the big attraction?

Microsoft is selling Windows 7 on a number of benefits that are really chiming with customers, including:

* Green dollars, and the ability to reduce the organisation's carbon footprint through better power management;
* Speed, the productivity improvements that the operating system can bring to users;
* Performance, a big issue for some users on less powerful hardware platforms;
* Management of the system at the back-end, which is bringing real savings to IT departments.

Of course, some of these benefits were evident in Vista, notably the advanced power management features. On performance, though, the new operating system allows the user to do everything faster: searching, browsing, getting access to data and applications, even booting the system. In addition, improved security and error handling mean less downtime and disruption. These small time savings add up to real value for the business. But equally important are the management functions, which make things significantly easier for IT operations.

Moving to pre SP1 version of Windows 7 is also seen as less of a risk than moving to Vista was, thanks to the fact that Windows 7 is not a completely new operating system, but simply a more ‘mature’ version of Vista; it's built on the same stack as Vista.

XP was bound to the hardware it was running on, so if an organisation had two or three versions of its desktop hardware, you might have 10-15 build images that had to be managed, patched and updated for the different hardware. Now Microsoft has abstracted the drivers and links to the hardware, so management of the system is more efficient as deployment and build times are cut significantly. These are savings that organisations can put a figure on – and they are significant.