Businesses that have not yet begun a deployment of Windows Vista should skip the operating system and start preparing for Windows 7, analysts at Gartner have advised.
In an advisory, Michael Silver and Stephen Kleynhans said Windows 7's release was so close that it would not make sense to move to Vista beforehand.
"Preparing for Vista will require the same amount of effort as preparing for Windows 7 so, at this point, targeting Windows 7 would add less than six months to the schedule and would result in a plan that is more politically palatable, better for users, and results in greater longevity," the Gartner analysts wrote in the advisory, published on Wednesday.
Companies that are already in the middle of a Vista deployment should continue with their rollout but plan a switch to Windows 7 in late 2010 or early 2011, especially if their switch to Vista involved buying new hardware, the analysts wrote. If going to Windows 7 rather than Vista would delay the deployment by six months or less, then companies should simply consider switching to Windows 7 instead of Vista, they suggested.
Silver and Kleynhans said they expected PC manufacturers to begin testing the final Windows 7 code in August this year. Microsoft has not given a release date for Windows 7, but at the end of April, an Acer executive suggested that PCs using the upcoming operating system would go on sale on 23 October. The release candidate for Windows 7 is currently available for download.
Microsoft itself has made a similar suggestion. Last Monday, the software maker's senior vice president for Windows, Bill Veghte, told TechEd attendees: "If you're just starting your testing of Vista, with the [Windows 7] release candidate and the quality of that offering, I would switch over and do your testing on the release candidate, and use that going forward."
More than half of businesses plan to skip Vista anyway, Gartner's analysts noted. However, they suggested that as Windows XP ages, most organisations will have to move to Windows 7 to make sure they are using a product that still has support.
"We advise organisations to move off of Windows XP by [the end of 2012] to avoid application support problems, even though Microsoft will support Windows XP into April 2014," Silver and Kleynhans wrote.
A Dell executive has, however, noted that licensing for the various versions of Windows 7 will be more expensive than it was for XP and Vista — a situation that might hinder early Windows 7 adoption.
In an interview with blogger Brooke Crothers on ZDNet UK's sister site CNET News.com, Darrel Ward, director of product management for Dell's business client product group, said "schools and government agencies may not be able to afford [the additional cost, and] some of the smaller businesses may not be able to enjoy the software as soon as they'd like".