I haven’t been networking as long as SJVN but he seems to have forgotten how good networking is in a UNIX-like OS when he writes, “7’s many networking improvements and new features, they offer a fine reason to upgrade from XP”
Networking is useful and it actually makes almost any PC much more useful whether it is just surfing the web or complicated mingling of computing resources on the LAN. In TFA, SJVN outlines several “new” features of “7”:
- libraries – no not collections of linkable resources in a file-system, but M$’s new name for a directory containing links to other resources including local and networked files and folders.
- Home Group – shared libraries I guess.
- Easy Connect – help desk interaction.
- Location-aware printing
- View Available Networks
- URL-based QoS
- Direct Access – no, not storage but VPN or something
- Branch Cache – yes file caching comes to the LAN
I don’t see anything in there that is new or worth the cost of migrating from XP to “7”. These are all minor tweaks that could mostly be obtained by reconfiguration of existing systems. Renaming something is not usually considered innovation or worth tons of money but M$ needs customers to believe this is innovation. I am surprised SJVN uses this as support for his thesis that “7” is somehow so much better than XP for networking that a migration requiring replacement of almost every PC and server and a new set of paid software licences is justified.
Good old NFS will do the first two as long as you set permissions accordingly, use global authentication like openLDAP, and share folders and not invidiual files. The only place where I see sharing individual files important is when thee are too many files in a folder to scroll about. That’s an issue of file-management, not networking. If I had 10k files in a folder, I would use search to find them rather than scrolling, but that’s just me. I never got the hang of knowing where to file everything because I have not much short-term memory. Items 1 and 2 seem to me to be a way to make the file-system more complicated, increasing lock-in as usual. I have met many people using XP that could not find files recently saved. I have that problem from time to time as well, hence I use search. My Downloads folder is huge but I almost never scroll in it.
Location-aware printing again is a matter of configuration. When we boot our machines they can choose one configuration file or another depending on the location. I doubt people have more than a few places to print in-house. On the road is a problem but a travelling salesman is unlikely to have permission to print anyway otherwise malware would use all the paper.
Branch Caching. I have seen GNU/Linux systems caching network accesses to the web and local and LAN file accesses
for years. I don’t see it as something new at all. Perhaps it is in that other OS. If you really want to cache stuff efficiently for a bunch of users put them on a GNU/Linux terminal server. It will treat the cache of the networked file as a local copy in RAM for as long as it can. That’s how I get such quick logins and window openings on a GNU/Linux terminal server. The files are almost always in RAM. It looks like “7” is keeping its copy on the hard drive giving issues of synchronicity and security. If you are pulling files from a server, the LAN should be faster than the local hard drive in many cases. If that server has the files cached in RAM the first bytes will arrive before your local hard drive can start its seek. That situation will be more important in a busy system.
View Available networks? Is this new? I have wicd running here and it tells me about all the neighbours’ wireless networks. I am not sure users examining the LAN for resources is a good thing for security. Administrators may need information about all available networks but the user of a machine running “7” should not. When the malware takes over, do we want the malware to know where everything is and where it’s going?
Easy Connect sounds a lot like VNC. I do that over SSH to administer users’ PCs. That’s not new for XP. That’s been around for many years. I guess if they change the name M$ gets to claim it as a feature.
Direct Access – see Easy Connect but change VNC to plain SSH. It’s pretty easy to scoot all over a network with port forwarding and SSH. That’s old, too.
If anything, these features should be grounds to migrate to GNU/Linux. The migration will cost less and you get all the features of a properly networked OS for one low price, $0 instead of $100+ per seat and CALs and server licences… I expect many system comfortable with XP will find a way to migrate to GNU/Linux instead of staying on the Wintel treadmill. If your are in a hole, stop digging. GNU/Linux is like a ladder helping you get out.