New features in Windows XP will give system integrator IT&E the chance to add more value to its clientele, according to Randal Massy-Greene, business manager of the company's E Network Integration division.
"We see a lot in Windows XP that will let us install the software faster and cheaper," Massy-Greene says. "These savings mean we are going to be able to go to clients that have small budgets and offer them services that really deliver ROI. We think that will give us a chance to build deeper relationships that add more value through IT."
Massy-Greene's opinions are based on his company's experience implementing Windows XP for The Farmshed, a company aiming to become the online partner for Australia's primary producers. The company's site, www.farmshed.com.au, currently offers a wide range of information services and a commerce section where users can purchase farm inputs. With around 20 users, The Farmshed is typical of IT&E's E Network Integration customers, which generally use a similar number of PCs but do not employ their own support personnel.
The Farmshed adopted Windows XP and Office XP as part of Microsoft's Rapid Deployment Program for early adopters.
"Even working with pre-release code, we were pleased with the performance of Windows XP at The Farmshed," Massy-Greene says. "Features like driver rollback really worked and we were able to address issues quickly and comfortably."
The experience has given Massy-Greene confidence that further Windows XP implementations will be uncomplicated. "In the past, we worried that if a client's PCs weren't standardised, implementation of an operating system could take more time than we budgeted for," he says. "This might have put us in the awkward position of having to ask a client for more money or time to finish a job."
Windows XP, however, inspires more confidence. "Having seen the installation we've done so far, we have many fewer concerns that a hardware compatibility issue will slow a rollout. So we're confident our quote will cover the service we need to provide to get the job done. That's important these days - customers don't want any surprises on the bill."
Importantly, Massy-Greene's team needed few new skills to tackle the task. "All our certifications remain valid from Windows 2000," he says. "It's all very familiar. There are a few new elements to understand but nothing major."
Windows XP's manageability is another plus for IT&E. "We think that if we go to our customers and explain value-adding features like remote desktop management in Windows XP they'll see value in the upgrade."
In concert with the forthcoming .Net server, Massy-Greene believes Windows XP will become an especially compelling upgrade prospect. "If Windows .Net is as good as Windows XP, I think our customers will see a lot of power in upgrading to get an operating system that offers them a lot of functionality.
"We think there's going to be a big opportunity for us."