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Enterprises That Say 'No' to Windows 7 Migration

Analyst firm Gartner has been telling IT pros for a while now that they have to migrate to Windows 7, and the "danger zone" for getting that done will be 2013. It can take a year or more to get ready, and organizations will start feeling the pressure next year to complete all of the prep work in time. Basically, Gartner's message is that it is inevitable that you will move to Windows 7.

This migration, in many cases from Windows XP, will entail some pain. Even Gartner admits a lack of good tools to address Internet Explorer 6 Web app compatibility issues, which is a corollary to the Windows 7 migration problem.

Gartner certainly carries big clout when it comes to opinion making. It all seems so inevitable. However, a chat I had with Aaron Suzuki, CEO of Seattle-based Prowess Corp., offered another scenario: He feels, based on discussions with Prowess' large enterprise customers, that many companies would rather pay for custom support from Microsoft or use tools from independent software vendors than make such a change to their systems. The timeline for these customers to move is different from what many analysts say, Suzuki explained.

"Based on the feedback we've gotten back from customers, they just don't have this sense of urgency, and they don't always feel that a timeline is critical, and a lot of them are just waiting for their ISVs to take care of the issues so that they don't have to do crazy app compat things and come up with wild workarounds," Suzuki said in a phone interview.

Although there's talk about using desktop virtualization solutions and application virtualization as a method for addressing compatibility issues, customers are just saying "No," and waiting for ISVs to produce a solution, he added. Suzuki agreed that customers will start paying more attention to the migration issue around 2012. By 2014, we'll see people on Windows 7 and achieving a steady state, he said. While Microsoft will eliminate its extended support for Windows XP in April 2014, meaning no more free security patches, that's not a big motivator for enterprises, according to Suzuki.

"Especially in the enterprise, the opinion and overwhelming attitude is, 'We give those guys so much money, they should be on our schedule,'" Suzuki said. "It's our agenda, not theirs. It's much more of a practical business [consideration]."

Enterprises can't afford major disruptions and unnecessary risk, he added. There's not so much anxiety about Microsoft's end-of-life schedule for Windows XP. That view holds for enterprises as well as companies in the lower and upper middle markets, he explained.

"The other thing to keep in mind is that all of these people have solved the problems that Windows 7 claims to fix through vendors solutions and their own internal stuff," Suzuki said. "We have this encryption that we've bought from another vendor. We don't need to rush just to take advantage of BitLocker or Directory Services or whatever."

The number of the OS doesn't matter to these customers. They will likely just pay for the extra support.

"We've had a couple of customers say straight up, 'It's cheaper for us to pay for the individual attention that we require than it is for us to scramble and hack things together and make it work.'"

Of course, Prowess has a stake in the migration scenario as a provider of various system imaging tools, including SmartDeploy, which Suzuki describes as a tool for "VM-centric hardware independent Windows deployment." The company also offers a tool called SmartMigrate, which coverts an XP PC into a virtual machine, allowing another operating system to be deployed around it.

So, what's true? Is migration to Windows 7 inevitable or is it just an unnecessary problem defined by Microsoft's schedule? Do you feel the pressure to migrate to Windows 7 or not? Share your pain, successes, gripes and guffaws with Doug at dbarney@redmondmag.com.
-- By Kurt Mackie

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/11/2011 at 1:18 PM


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Reader Comments:

Sat, Apr 16, 2011 anonymous

The only reason 7 is overtaking XP is because they are forcing people to use it. All new PC's are preinstalled with it. Vista and 7 are flawed Operating systems from a user standpoint. They are too restrictive, annoying, and change too much of the GUI that has been standard since 95. You are forced to evolve or your PC eventually dies because of lack of security updates. Just because you buy shiny new things the moment they show up doesn't mean everything old is worse. The upcoming Windows 8=Vista third edition. Windows 7 is Vista Second edition. Full of gimmicks and fancy tricks. Aero Snap? There's a far better version in XP called Tile Horizontally or Tile Vertically that isn't limited to arranging just two windows but any number you select. There are many good useful features of XP removed and broken in Windows 7. The file manager, Windows Explorer was utterly destroyed in Vista and becomes worse in Windows 7. Poor usability. See www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_features_removed_in_Windows_7 and www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_features_removed_in_Windows_Vista . Unnecessary GUI changes. Vista was innonative but horrible usability wise and removed things. Windows 7 is Vista with few new features and again many features removed and fancy gimmicks and shiny graphics added. XP was THE BEST because it did not change the GUI and move everything around just for sake of change.

Wed, Apr 13, 2011

That is were ThinApps comes in to assist the migration from any business or xp apps to work with windows 7

Wed, Apr 13, 2011

That is were ThinApps comes in to assist the migration from any business or xp apps to work with windows 7

Tue, Apr 12, 2011

@Dan.... 1) You cant compare migrating from Win95 to XP , With XP to Win7. What does Win7 have that XP doesn't ? not a lot....Nothing that companies would want anyway. 2) Moving to win7 is actually a negative for lots of companies. Moving between any computer systems is difficult for companies. You can spend lots of money getting software made specifically for your companies needs. Spend YEARS developing the SYSTEM ,staff and efficiency. Even in a business with only 100-200 computers linked AS a working system , the time and cost of migration is too much. It is NOT just the cost of the OS.. If that's all it was , there would be no problem. eg. Company sets up an ordering system. Later adds a checking system. Then adds communication systems. Then adds a management system. Then adds an access system. etc... ! The overall system has been developed over YEARS and is still growing. So telling the company to ditch all their systems and start again is ridiculous.

Tue, Apr 12, 2011 Jay Chicago

Like living creatures ... some organizations evolve and become stronger, some don't and become extinct.

Tue, Apr 12, 2011 Doctorg13 Montana

I work in a small rural school district with very limited resources. I hope to be rid of the last Windows 98 machines by the end of this school year. The Windows 7 machines have caused more problems than they have solved for me. I am in no hurry to leave XP. So long as flash, Java, and Firefox along with antivirus software will run with XP we have no real reason to change.

Tue, Apr 12, 2011 Dan Iowa

They'll move in their own time; just like they went from 95 to XP. These are the people that need to be told that the reason they need a new OS is because the application they want to put on their systems will not run on old operating systems. They generally are not very good about staying up to date on most of their software, and typically have long hardware replacement cycles, but they'll get there.

Mon, Apr 11, 2011

I can see these past comments are from SMB players. In Large Enterprises, trying to come up with multi-millions of dollars for the upgrade of tens of thousands of PC's in a market where the company is actually loosing money, it just doesn't make sense. There are some who would say Software Assurance or other similar things to ensure upgrade pricing, but even that isn't worth it when it runs out months before the new release and you still have to buy new SA on top of the new software. Let's see: 1 OS + SA(x2) + compatibility and software conversion issues x 50,000 PC's = not worth SA or upgrading until profitability returns. No, there ARE a lot of good reasons not to upgrade.

Mon, Apr 11, 2011 Ryan San Francisco

When I read stories like this, I just have to scratch my head; I can’t believe that there are IT departments or CIOs that aren’t pushing hard for migrations or simply, better. With XP having been released almost ten years ago and IE 7 in 2006 and then IE 8 in 2009, yet there are still corporations that are STILL stuck on IE6? In addition to that, Win7 was released about two years ago, yet there are corporations that haven't started migration plans - in spite of Vista? Even if there are restrictive IT budgets, this just screams of laziness as technology is moving faster not slower. There is no good reason to still be stuck to IE6 and not be already testing XP to Win7 deployments. When there is news that companies have gotten complacent with bad software design and development processes which leads to insecure and vulnerable systems, it’s telling of a sad state of IT – being too reactive instead of proactive.

Mon, Apr 11, 2011 Marc Wagner Bloomington, IN

There are always the EARLY adopters and the LATE adopters. The early adopters often anticipate a smoother ride than they encournter but they learn a lot in the process - making much of their extra effort worht the additional investment. The vast majority in the middle have been planning for a transition to Windows 7 almost since the day it hit-the-streets. Now that SP1 is here, nothing is holding them back. As for the LATE adopters ... They always think they are saving money by putting things off. In truth, they end up spending far more money, and put themselves at greater risk. These firms who ignore everyone in the name of the bottom line often have little IT expertise - which means they will end up paying someone else to fix their problems. IT is an everchanging field and if you don't grow with IT, sooner or later, you will fail!

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