...printers, scanners, external storage devices and other peripherals. In a lot of cases you'll find the required drivers already built into Windows 7, but others will have to be downloaded from vendor websites. Some may not be supported at all, in which case you'll have either to upgrade to something new or exclude affected systems from the migration to get around the problem. Either way, you'll need to factor in the time required to sort out such issues, which can be significant.
Pricing the software
You'll need to check out application compatibility and cost in any updates needed to make existing programs work with Windows 7. In the case of mainstream applications, such as Office, you'll probably be able to carry on with what you've got, but there is a cost to reinstalling that still needs to be accounted for.
Accounting programs, development tools and other more specialist apps are much more likely to need patching. In many cases you could end up having to upgrade to a later version, which could push the migration bill up considerably. Virtualisation can help here, and is included as part of Windows 7, but you still need to make sure it will work with your applications and train the users involved — again, adding to the costs.
Then there's the little matter of Windows 7 itself. As mentioned in an earlier article, companies with Microsoft Software Assurance should be able to get the update at no extra charge, but for others there's a price to pay. That price will vary depending on the numbers involved, whether you're upgrading from XP or Vista, the edition employed and so on. If you're a large company, you may also be able to get your hardware supplier to preload a custom configuration onto any new kit you need; smaller companies can also have Windows preinstalled to save on deployment costs.
Planning to succeed
Unfortunately, that's not the whole story, as there are lots of other overheads to consider, which we'll look at in the second part of this article. In the meantime, it's worth stressing the need for a dedicated and knowledgeable team to cost, plan and manage the migration, even if you end up outsourcing some of the work.
Don't just take our word for it. In a recent survey commissioned by Symantec, companies that had successfully migrated to Windows 7 typically involved over half their IT staff in the process. Moreover, planning was rated as the most important part of the job, if also one of the most expensive. To misquote Benjamin Franklin: "by failing to prepare you prepare to fail". Get your Windows 7 migration wrong and it'll cost you.