Eye on Microsoft

About this Blog: This is Shane O'Neill's blog about Microsoft's corporate strategy and its various software and services — the good, the bad and the ugly.

Eye on Microsoft

Windows 7 Migrations: Five Truths Behind the Myths

Enterprises have been lulled into a Windows XP complacency by fairy tale Windows 7 migration myths. Can you handle the truth?

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You would think a year and a half after its release that Windows 7 would be getting more love from enterprises.

The message is pretty clear now: Windows 7 is the speediest, sleekest version of Windows with better security tools and more flexible networking features than Vista or XP. It's also the fastest selling OS ever, according to Microsoft, with 350 million licenses sold in 18 months.

But as anyone who has delayed buying a new TV, laptop or car knows, it's easy to put off new purchases if what you have is good enough.

And the ongoing problem, at least for Microsoft, is that Windows 7 is put-offable, and the resilient Windows XP is still good enough for businesses. Roughly three-quarters of businesses are still using Windows XP, according to market share numbers.

[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system -- including hands-on reviews, video tutorials and advice on enterprise rollouts -- see CIO.com's Windows 7 Bible. ]

This could explain a recent poll from IT services firm Unisys, which found that only 21 percent of the 133 enterprise IT decision makers polled are currently upgrading to Windows 7. Compare that to the 53 percent that either "haven't started" or "have no plans" to migrate.

The big reason for staying in the Windows XP comfort zone, according to Sam Gross, VP of Global IT Outsourcing Solutions at Unisys, is a fear of the unknown combined with a belief that Windows 7 upgrades will be smooth enough to be blown off for awhile.

But to do nothing is a losing proposition, says Gross, and will soon backfire as Microsoft reduces support for Windows XP and stops support completely in April, 2014.

"Businesses that drag their feet with Windows 7 risk missing out on a chance to modernize their IT systems significantly and to capitalize on a rare opportunity to lay the groundwork for future growth," Gross says.

But before embracing the future, skittish CIOs should understand the myths surrounding Windows 7 migrations so they can avoid the pitfalls and upgrade more efficiently. In a recent blog post, Gross highlighted the truths behind five Windows 7 myths.

Here is a summary:

Myth: You have an accurate sense of the scope of the migration.

Truth: You'll only have a ballpark count of the PCs that need to be migrated, and will probably overlook other equipment and software that use the operating system. Plan enough time to test everything that touches Windows: hardware, software and applications.

Myth: Windows 7 will fit seamlessly into your current desktop infrastructure.

Truth: It's difficult to control the scope of an operating system migration and make it fit your environment. Plan on upgrading aging support servers and adding network capacity to adjust for Windows 7.

Myth: Windows 7 will extend the life of your current PCs.

Truth: Don't count on it. Windows 7 uses CPU and memory more efficiently than Windows XP, but hanging on to older PCs can end up increasing the total cost of a migration. Older PCs have limited memory, disk space, and performance speeds that can hinder the productivity gains of Windows 7.

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