Windows 7 migration ahead? What a CIO should know

Operating system upgrades are not easy. But as IT shops consider moving away from XP, find out what makes a Windows 7 migration worth it (and how to plan for it).

For many organizations -- especially those that skipped Windows Vista -- a Windows 7 migration is inevitable. After living a long life, Windows XP is on the way out. Microsoft and third-party application vendors are focusing on Windows 7 and putting earlier editions of Windows behind them -- something many IT shops will have to do, too.

But what do CIOs and IT managers need to know about migrating to Windows 7? It will be time-consuming, costly and resource-intensive (much like all desktop operating system deployments), but what makes Windows 7 worth the effort? Learn more about the right time to move away from XP, what you should include in your migration strategy and what your peers are doing to get started in this Windows 7 strategic overview. Plus, find out how Windows 7 can help you take advantage of other new technologies.

This guide is part of SearchCIO-Midmarket.com's Midmarket CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic management and decision-making advice on timely topics. For a complete list of topics covered to date, visit the Midmarket CIO Briefings section.

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  Expert advice on Windows 7 migrations
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Like many midmarket IT executives this year, CIO Ivan Imana is wrestling with how best to make the move from Windows XP to Windows 7. In the mix at Milwaukee-based Adelman Travel Group: 250 desktops with 1 GB of memory, a workforce that does most of its work on a Web-enabled online application, and zero appetite for running an operating system on unsupported software.

With $350 million in revenue, a total IT budget of $1.5 million and another potentially tough year on the horizon, Adelman Travel also doesn't have much margin for error. The cost of migration is important. Imana considered desktop virtualization, but a quick analysis appeared to yield a lower ROI than a traditional forklift migration, scary as that is.

As Burton Group Inc. analyst Simon Bramfitt noted, companies have been running XP for as long as eight years, and now, because of the current financial uncertainty, don't have an easy way to migrate.

Learn more in "Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7: The experts weigh in." Also:

  Windows 7 business benefits
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Windows 7 features stand in stark contrast to those of its precursor, Windows Vista. By carefully managing changes, ensuring application and driver compatibility with Vista and working to improve the resource utilization and performance of the OS, Microsoft has a version of Windows that many businesses will be willing to deploy -- particularly now that Windows XP is in extended support.

In this Windows 7 review, learn about upgrade obstacles and features that benefit the business, including:

  • Barriers to adoption, including architectural changes and user account control.
  • Security upgrades.
  • Licensing concerns.
  • Direct access into branch cache.

Learn more in "Windows 7 review: A closer look at this operating system for business." Also:

  When to move from Windows XP to Windows 7
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Microsoft's Windows 7 is a nimble operating system poised to replace the beloved XP. But after a difficult economic year, many IT shops will be debating when the costly operating system migration makes the most sense.

Why upgrade to Windows 7 now, rather than extend the life of XP just a bit longer? Companies have been doing it for years already, avoiding Windows Vista -- and the plague of performance problems, compatibility issues and general user malaise it brought -- in favor of sticking with XP.

One CIO started planning to move from Windows XP to Windows 7 shortly after its release. The benefits of moving away from the aging operating system and toward a single, reliable platform were enough to push him forward early on.

Learn more in "One CIO shares why he is moving to Windows 7 now." Also:

  Options for migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7
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Windows 7 is poised to save organizations from the quirky Vista and an aging XP, but there are strategic options to consider before you make the move to the newest operating system. For those who skipped Vista, a Windows 7 migration will have a few more challenges and risks -- including increased risk of data loss -- but it will also alleviate potential problems associated with the security flaws in XP.

While many organizations won't migrate to Windows 7 until early 2011, after the 12- to 18-month period it takes to traditionally prepare for a new operating system deployment, it's important to understand where you are now as you plan ahead.

Learn more in "Windows XP to Windows 7: Planning your upgrade strategy." Also:

  Windows 7 and the future of desktop computing
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Many organizations were able to put off the pain of moving to a new operating system by riding out Windows XP for as long as possible. Now that XP's end of life is creeping up, you might be considering a Windows 7migration. If done correctly, Windows 7 could be your last desktop operating system installation.

With a lifetime of more than nine years, Windows XP has proven to be the longest-lasting OS Microsoft has released -- offering the best ROI, out of all editions of Windows. Windows 7 appears to be positioned to replace the long-standing OS, but new technologies focused on Web services and virtualization are changing the traditional PC management model. While many of these technologies are in their infancy, in 10 years they're expected to be full-fledged service offerings that may eliminate the PC as we know it, from our desktops.

Learn more in "Windows 7: Your last desktop operating system deployment?." Also:

  • Desktop computing predictions for 2010
    Which desktop technologies will be important to enterprises next year? Learn about the virtualization, Windows 7 and cloud computing developments to watch for.
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This was first published in March 2010

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