Gartner: XP To Windows 7 Leap Won't Be Easy

Gartner expects Microsoft to release Windows 7 to manufacturing by September in order to give OEMs time to install it on new PCs in time for the holiday season. But most organizations will need between 12 and 18 months after Windows 7 ships to conduct application testing and other migration tasks, according to Gartner, which says they shouldn't expect to deploy Windows 7 in widespread fashion before the first half of 2011.

Despite the fact that Microsoft will support Windows XP through April 2014, organizations using XP will begin running into problems with third-party application support by 2012, Gartner says in the report.

Unlike Microsoft, which has been urging customers to migrate to Vista first before Windows 7, Gartner isn't beating the Vista drum. In the report, the research firm suggests that the looming release of Windows 7 and the sagging economy have combined to push Vista onto the back burner.

"It is getting more difficult for Gartner to recommend Windows Vista adoption to organizations that have not yet done any preparation," according to the report.

Sponsored post

In a separate report released earlier this month, Gartner says the longstanding belief that it's best to hold off on migrating to a new version of Windows until Microsoft releases the first service pack is no longer valid. Microsoft tried to convince XP users of this after Vista's release, but has since acknowledged that Vista SP1 went a long way toward fixing the early problems that Vista users encountered.

Many customers are looking at the Windows 7 release as the "R2" release of Vista, which means they'll be more willing to migrate to the new operating system, says Andrew Kretzer, director of sales and marketing at Bold Data Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based system builder.

"The religious wait for an SP1 release before adoption is no longer required due to the huge amount of beta testing Microsoft has done in Windows 7," Kretzer said. "Microsoft has also worked hard on developing and improving migration tools to aid IT managers in transitioning their installed user base."

The broader availability of the Windows 7 beta compared to earlier Windows releases, and development process changes such as Microsoft's Security Development Lifecycle (SDL), means that fewer bugs will make it through the final Windows 7 release, Gartner says.

However, some ISVs won't add Windows 7 support for their products until up to a year after Windows 7 ships, and organizations will still need up to six month to test these apps, says Gartner. The research firm recommends that organizations deploy Windows 7 within 12 to 18 months after its release, by which time Microsoft will likely have released Windows 7 Service Pack 1.