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How and why XP users should consider a Vista or Windows 7 migration

Skipping a major Microsoft OS release like Vista could leave businesses in the lurch as Windows XP support tapers off. Here's how to approach a Vista or Windows 7 migration.

Many companies have a death grip on Windows XP, refusing to consider a Vista

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migration and possibly even a move its successor, Windows 7. This may not be the best path to take for such reasons as the end of mainstream Windows XP support this April and the end of security fixes in 2014.

Here, Gartner Inc. analyst Michael Silver outlines a few reasons why skipping Vista might not be in the best interest of your organization and offers a plan of attack for your Vista or Windows 7 migration:

  • Test your applications on Vista or Windows 7 beta, and have a remediation plan -- even if you plan to skip a Vista migration. Applications that do not run on Vista will likely not run on Windows 7, so skipping Vista will not avoid the cost of remediating them.
  • In 2009, perhaps only 80% of PC models will fully support Windows XP -- in 2010, perhaps only 50% or 60%. So the more time that goes by, the fewer choices you'll have when replacing PCs if you need Windows XP drivers. That could then force you to buy other models with different features or at different price points than you want.
  • Consider bringing in Vista on new PCs. This move is the least expensive and lowest-risk alternative, since it's a staggered approach.
  • Bringing in Vista on new PCs is the least expensive and lowest-risk way to phase out Windows XP, since it's a staggered approach.

  • If your organization wants to try to skip a move to Vista, plan a forklift Windows 7 migration rather than trying to bring it in solely via PC attrition. Organizations that try to skip a version of Windows generally don't have three or four years of support left on their old operating systems to allow a migration through hardware attrition, Silver said. Plan for this around 2012 because you will want to eliminate Windows XP by then to avoid waning application support for XP.
  • Keep Microsoft's track record of meeting its own deadlines in mind. Microsoft said it would deliver Windows 7 by the end of 2009, but the company's track record for shipping new versions of Windows on time isn't good. Windows 2000 and Windows Vista were major releases -- and they were late. However, Windows XP, a more evolutionary release, was on time. Microsoft hasn't yet disclosed enough information about Windows 7 for users to discern whether it will be a major or minor release.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Christina Torode, Senior News Writer.

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