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Gartner Outlines Windows 7 Deployment Strategy

IT departments should depart from the usual SP1 milestone when deciding when to deploy Windows 7, according to a Gartner analysis.

IT departments should depart from the usual Service Pack 1 (SP1) milestone when deciding when to deploy Windows 7, according to a Gartner analysis published this month.

Many IT pros believe you should wait for the first service pack before organization-wide deployment of any new Windows operating system release. However, that conventional wisdom no longer applies to Microsoft's OSes, starting with Windows 7, according to Michael A. Silver, Gartner's vice president and distinguished analyst.

Silver described Windows 7 as an "incremental update to Windows Vista." He explained that while Wiindows 7 is not much of a leap from Vista, independent software vendors (ISVs) developing applications for Windows 7 may take "12 or more months" to get their applications ready for the new OS.

When those apps are ready for Windows 7, IT organizations should expect to spend about three to six months testing applications and building images before beginning widespread deployment of the OS, Silver recommended.

As a rule of thumb, Windows 7 deployment should happen "12 to 18 months from the time Windows 7 is released," Silver advised. Coincidentally, that's when SP1 may appear. Silver suggested that IT orgs could save time by deploying Windows 7 and SP1 at the same time.

Microsoft has not yet said when Windows 7, currently in beta, will be released to manufacturing. Rumors suggest it might be available as early as the third quarter of this year.

SP1 isn't the milestone it used to be for IT organizations because Microsoft has changed how it develops its software products. Bugs are tested early because Microsoft uses a security development lifecycle (SDL) procedure -- something not done with Windows XP and earlier Microsoft operating systems.

Silver also cited an improvement in Microsoft's beta testing program as a reason not to time OS deployments based on the SP1 release. Microsoft has "five times as many" Windows 7 beta testers compared with those who tested the Windows 95 beta, he explained. Moreover, Microsoft now uses automated tools to get user feedback, which wasn't the case with Windows 95.

Service packs are increasingly becoming "an artificial construct," Silver contended, mostly because Microsoft has a monthly automatic update cycle to fix things.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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