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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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