Companies planning to migrate from XP to Microsoft Windows 7 in 2011-12 may have to pay over the odds for expertise, according to Gartner Inc. The research company says: “During that period, demand for highly qualified Windows 7 migration IT personnel will exceed supply, leading to higher service rates. These cost hikes are likely to continue in 2013, as organisations recognise that they are behind in their migrations.”
Charles Smulders, managing vice president at Gartner, said: “With most migrations not starting until the fourth quarter of 2010 at the earliest, and PC hardware replacement cycles typically running at four to five years, most organisations will not be able to migrate to Windows 7 through usual planned hardware refresh before support for Windows XP ends.”
Whether companies accelerate their PC replacement schedules or upgrade existing machines, Gartner reckons that spending on PCs will need to increase “from 15% of a typical IT budget … to 18% (best case) and 24% (worst case)”.
Gartner puts the migration cost at between $1,205 and $1,999 per PC for organisations replacing 10,000 PCs, or between $1,274 and $2,069 for organisations that upgrade existing PCs, “depending on how well-managed the PC environment is”. Since the upgraded PCs will soon need to be replaced, doubling the total cost, it will be cheaper to buy new PCs. However, in the short term, this will require more capital expenditure.
In Gartner’s statement, research vice president Steve Kleynhans says: “Based on an accelerated upgrade, we expect that the proportion of the budget spent on PCs will need to increase between 20% as a best-case scenario and 60% at worst in 2011 and 2012.”
Gartner estimates that “large and midsize organisations worldwide will migrate approximately 250 million PCs to Windows 7” during its timeline. Including small businesses would make the number much larger.
Of course, I expect the companies that have saved money by running a 9 year old operating system on 4-5 year old PCs will have the cash stashed away in readiness.
However, companies with smart IT staffs must already be well prepared for the coming migration. They would obviously have started testing their applications for compatibility when Windows Vista appeared four years ago, and confirmed their findings during the Windows 7 beta test and early launch period. They will already have started adapting programs where they have to, or will know they work correctly in Windows 7’s XP Mode. They will probably be well informed about the rapidly growing Windows 7 migration industry of consultancy companies and enterprise hardware and software suppliers who expect to make pots of money out of it.
Windows 7 has turned out to be the fastest-selling operating system in history, so the main question is how soon it will overtake the installed base of Windows XP. (On some techie websites, usage already has.) At ZD Net US, Ed Bott extrapolated Net Market Share numbers to suggest that Windows 7 will surpass XP early in 2012.
Either way, the Windows XP market (which means the amount of money spent now, not the size of the installed base) will soon disappear, because most people aren’t willing to spend money on an operating system that’s on its death bed. And since the vast majority of the web’s programmers are extremely keen to drop support for IE6 as soon as possible, and everybody else wants to stop patching up XP’s foibles and insecurities, it may not be a very pleasant death.