Migrating to Windows 7? Here are a few tips to help you on your way

Some tips to help prepare for Microsoft's new OS

The release of Microsoft Windows 7 on October 22, 2009 has the ICT industry tingling with excitement, particularly after the failure of its predecessor, Vista, failed to live up to the hype.

The new operating system's release is attracting a lot of attention but the news excitement should not be overshadowed by the practical requirements of doing an OS upgrade.

So, to help we've collated some advice from analyst firm Gartner and services provider, CSC.

Gartner’s top 5 tips:

1. Plan to be Off Windows XP by Year-End 2012

Microsoft will support Windows XP with security fixes into April of 2014, but it is likely that independent software vendors (ISVs) will stop testing software on Windows XP before this date. According to Gartner research VP and distinguished analyst Michael Silver, organisations should start planning Window 7 migration now in order to meet time limit and budget demands when software vendors will no longer support XP and avoid significant potential problems.

2. Start Working on Migration Projects Now

It takes generally takes 12 to 18 months for organisations to test and plan upgrades before deploying a new OS. Starting now will mean more time for preparation and potential delays which could result in added costs later.

3. Don’t Wait for Windows 7 SP1 to Begin Testing and Deployment

Gartner analysts suggest starting work now and not wait until SP1 ships to begin testing and deploying a new OS. This is especially in the case if companies have skipped Windows Vista, but are planning to switch to SP1 before their actual rollout.

4. Don’t Skip Windows 7

Gartner categorises Windows 7 as a “polishing” release on top of an architectural change that the Windows Vista release delivered. Gartner analysts said polishing releases should never be skipped.

5. Budget Carefully

Migration costs can vary significantly per user to move from Windows XP to Windows 7 or Windows Vista to Windows 7 depending on an organisation’s approach.

CSC’s Top 5 Tips:

Mike Monro, Portfolio Manager for End User Services at CSC gave us his thoughts.

1. Evaluate Application Compatibility

As the first step, CSC would recommend testing applications for compatibility with the new operating system. An application upgrade or redevelopment may be required, but fortunately, applications that are compatible with Windows Vista are in most cases compatible with Windows 7. Organisations planning to migrate from Windows XP to Windows 7 will require more effort in testing their current application suite to determine if they successfully function on the Windows 7 platform and may incur higher costs associated with upgrading or remediating applications.

2. Evaluate Hardware Compatibility

After testing for application compatibility, hardware should be revaluated and potentially refreshed. Fortunately, hardware requirements for Windows 7 are similar to those of Windows Vista and it will be faster compared to Vista on the same hardware. When Windows Vista was released, hardware requirements were a major barrier for upgrade to Vista, but it is no longer a big factor because the hardware models released in past two to three years will meet the minimum requirements of Windows 7.

3. Evaluate Driver Compatibility

Windows Vista and Windows 7 share the same driver model hence Windows Vista drivers can be used to evaluate Windows 7 readiness in terms of the devices/peripherals that it will support. CSC have observed that Windows 7 is compatible with most of the Windows Vista software and devices, and that Windows 7 can be managed with many of the same tools used to manage Windows Vista.

4. Train End User/Support Personnel

We would recommend extensive training on Windows 7 for IT administrators, Helpdesk and Field Services personnel as well as for end users. This is especially relevant for organisations looking to move from Windows XP to Windows 7.

5. Re-assess Desktop and Application Delivery Strategy

We see Windows 7 as an excellent opportunity to evaluate alternative desktop and application delivery strategies such as virtualisation. Virtualisation options provide flexibility in how desktops and applications are delivered to end users and it greatly reduces an organisation’s costs and efforts for future operating system and application deployments or upgrades.

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