Get ready for Microsoft's latest OS to avoid compatibility problems further down the road
Businesses should start investigating Windows 7 by the end of 2010, analysts have said.
Research company Gartner is advising companies to begin planning for and testing Windows 7 by the end of this year in order to be rid of XP before the end of 2012.
Microsoft's official support for XP doesn't end until April 2014 but Gartner said companies need to address migration to Windows 7 before then. This is in order to avoid compatibility issues as new applications increasingly fail to work with XP and independent software vendors end their support for apps on the OS.
The looming end to XP support is likely to be front of mind for many businesses, with Gartner research showing that 80 per cent of companies have avoided deploying its successor Windows Vista.
And, according to separate research, many are going to make the leap to Windows 7 sooner rather than later: almost half of organisations say they plan to move to Windows 7 before the first service pack emerges later this year.
Organisations will need to work out whether to migrate all employees onto Windows 7 in one go, or more gradually over a longer period as old PCs are replaced with new hardware running the OS, according to Gartner.
Those favouring the big bang approach should set a target end date, work out when the latest they can begin deployment is and then add extra time for pilots and testing - bearing in mind most organisations will need 12 to 18 months to plan, test and pilot Windows 7 before migration, Gartner said. Taking all these timelines into account should give businesses an indication of when to begin their migration.
Meanwhile, organisations rolling out Windows 7 using the attrition approach should pick a start date with two factors in mind - when they expect independent software makers to provide a sufficient level of support for Windows 7 and how much time is needed for them to properly test the OS.
With the attrition approach, companies may find their migrations cannot be completed entirely by as-and-when PC replacement, due to the length of hardware refresh cycles and may also need to migrate a block of computers in one go in order to meet their target end date for the project.