Planning to skip Windows Vista altogether and wait for Microsoft's next operating system instead?
For some companies it's a tempting option, but they need to consider it carefully or they could end up feeling some pain down the line, according to analyst group Gartner.
Gartner said companies have "significantly delayed" the start of their Windows Vista migrations, with most now planning to begin deployment in late 2008 or even 2009, making some think of skipping Vista altogether.
But Gartner research vice president Michael Silver has warned that the next version of Windows — code-named "Windows 7" — may also suffer from the delays that dogged Vista and be just as difficult to adopt.
"Organisations that tried to skip Windows 98, Windows 2000 and Windows XP often had ISV support issues and a difficult and rushed or forced migration. Organisations that try to skip Windows Vista are likely to undergo the same perils," the Gartner research warned.
For example, while Microsoft will support business versions of Windows for at least 10 years and Windows XP will be supported with security fixes until 2014, many software vendors won't support their products on Windows XP for that long, nor will they support new versions of their software on older operating systems.
For Windows XP, software suppliers will probably start dropping support in early 2010 and, by 2012, it will be common for software vendors not to support Windows XP for their new versions or applications.
Gartner also warned that, while Microsoft said it would deliver Windows 7 about three years after Vista shipped, "Microsoft's track record for shipping new versions of Windows is not good". Gartner pointed to delays with both Windows 2000 and Vista.
If the next version of Windows — likely to be a fairly major release — ships late, then companies trying to skip Vista will end up running large numbers of Windows XP PCs longer than they would like, and are likely to be forced to adopt Windows 7 before their vendors all support it.
For companies struggling to build a business case for upgrading to Vista, the analyst house suggested bringing in the new operating system on new hardware only — which means it could take a three- or four-year hardware replacement cycle to eliminate an old operating system and bring in a new one.
But Gartner also said that skipping Windows Vista might be the right decision for smaller organisations because they don't have the scale to support multiple operating systems on an ongoing basis, making a full-scale "fork-lift" migration project more efficient.
Gartner also advised that larger organisations with lots of in-house developed applications should consider fork-lift deployments, because their developers would be responsible for supporting all home-grown applications on multiple operating systems, which would "greatly increase application development costs".