Five steps firms should make before Win 7 move

Businesses should look at five key issues to prep themselves for "nearly inevitable" migration to Microsoft's upcoming OS, Gartner advises.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

It is "nearly inevitable" that businesses will migrate to Microsoft's upcoming operating system Windows 7 and they must examine some key issues before making the move, according to Gartner.

In an advisory released Friday, the research firm outlined five key areas companies should evaluate to prepare their migration to the new OS when it is officially launched Oct. 22.

1. Plan to be off Windows XP before end-2012.
Enterprises that had skipped Vista should plan to be leave Win XP by the end of 2012. According to Gartner, while Microsoft will support Win XP with security fixes until April 2014, past experience has shown that independent software vendors (ISVs) will stop testing their apps much earlier. In fact, ISVs will start limiting their support for Win XP after 2011.

"New releases of critical business software will require Windows 7 long before Microsoft support for Win XP ends," Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner, said in the report. "Organizations that get all of their users off Win XP by the end of 2012 will avoid significant potential problems."

2. Start work on migration plans now.
A typical organization requires 12 to 18 months of waiting, testing and planning before it can start deploying a new client OS, Gartner explained.

There is also a lot of work to be done in preparation, and delays in getting started will only result in added costs later.

3. Don't wait for Windows 7 SP 1.
Gartner cautioned against waiting Windows 7 Service Pack 1 to begin testing and deploying the new platform, noting that many companies are likely planning to wait until SP1 ships before starting their tests. Instead, organizations should start work now, especially if companies have skipped Windows Vista.

4. Don't skip Windows 7.
In May 2009, Gartner advised companies to skip Vista and wait for Windows 7, because the latter has important features that Vista did not have. These new tweaks will help improve organizations' abilities to deploy the new platform.

The research house pointed out that Windows 7 is not a major architectural release, focusing mainly on "polishing" or fine-tuning the OS, and builds on the deeper "plumbing" changes Microsoft made in Windows Vista. However, Windows 7 carries improvements in memory management that will allow users to have a better experience than that on Vista, explained Michael Silver, vice president and analyst at Gartner.

5. Budget with care.
Companies should plan their budgets carefully as migration costs vary significantly, depending on the OS the organization has. Gartner estimated that it will cost US$339 to US$510 per user to move from Windows Vista to Windows 7, and US$1,035 to US$1,930 per user to move from Windows XP to Windows 7.

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