Believe what Microsoft and its resellers tell you, and every man and his dog is either migrating to Windows 7 or planning to do so in the next few months.
But is it really the automatic and obvious choice it's made out to be? Let's look at some of the business arguments for and against going down the Windows 7 route.
It's the economics, stupid
First off, there are the financial arguments. Some proponents might say that a Windows 7 migration is inevitable, and that — with a VAT increase due in January 2011 — the sooner you make the move, the better.
But should switching to Windows 7 really be taken as read? After all, there are plenty of alternatives for those prepared to try something different, such as switching to Apple Mac or even Linux, either of which might deliver a better return on the investment required. Moreover, VAT is reclaimable, making the imminent rise of negligible concern when compared to what will be a significant investment for most businesses.
Bear in mind too that time is rarely of the essence here. Desktop migration is a complicated and costly exercise, even in the smallest of companies, and shouldn't be rushed into lightly. Indeed, as with any capital investment, you'll need time not just to plan for any upgrade, but to decide whether it's really worth it in the first place. Plus, of course, you'll need to justify it to those holding the purse strings.
Happy with your lot?
There are lots of technical arguments for migrating, but it's important to stress that it's not all about the technology. Particularly in organisations that are still relatively happy with what they've got — where there may be little to gain from migration and a lot, in business terms, to be lost. You may end up better off but, equally, you could spend time and money upgrading your desktops only to end up with a solution that delivers little more than what you started with.
That, of course, is something of an over-simplification and, with careful planning, unlikely to happen. However, working out exactly how long you can get by with existing systems is far from easy. Windows XP, for example, may seem adequate for your needs now, but it is over eight years old, which is a long time in software terms. More than that, mainstream support for XP was ended by Microsoft back in 2009 — which means no more service packs and security-related fixes only, unless you're prepared to pay extra to keep it going.
Likewise, with third-party developers the focus of activity these days is very much on Windows 7, with scant attention paid to XP or even Vista support. In which case, why continue to struggle against the tide when...