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Gartner Says Don't Skip Windows 7

IT vets sometimes pay Gartner thousands of dollars for its advice, and vendors pay multiples of this to work with Gartner (in hopes to get the huge research house on their side). I don't think this puts Gartner in the pockets of vendors necessarily, which, if the case, would be a good reason not to believe it. But I don't generally believe Gartner because it is so often wrong.

Ever since I've known Microsoft it has told IT not to skip operating systems, that skipping one level only makes moving to the next harder. Of course it doesn't hurt that Microsoft gets paid for each step along the way.

Gartner loves this Kool-Aid and just released a report suggesting that exact same thing, that XP shops should not go directly to Windows 8 but move to Windows 7 first. In all other upgrades I'd say this is poppycock. Two upgrades are both twice as hard and expensive.

But Windows 8 is different, very different. Here Gartner is arguing that Windows 8 is not ready to be a mainstream upgrade, and for the time being should serve IT as a niche operating system for "special projects."

Here's Gartner's rationale: There are two types of Microsoft OS upgrades. Some, like Windows 2000, are "plumbing releases" because the underlying technology is so different. The release that follows is generally a "polishing release." This turns the plumbing release into something IT actually trusts and wants to use. Windows 8 is both a plumbing and polishing release. Windows XP was a "polishing release."  Apparently so is Windows 7.

One reason Win 8 is polished is because its applications compatibility is generally good with Windows 7 (and Windows 7 is generally good with XP). But good is not perfect, and both OSes require some new apps or some fiddling to get old apps to work. If you go from XP to Win 7 to Win 8, you'll have to do this twice.

My view, for which I require no hefty consulting fee, is to look at Win 8 on its own. If you like and trust it, why bother with a Win 7 interim step? But because Win 8 is so different in user interface, give it a lot more testing and thought than you ordinarily might. Make this the basis of your decision rather than some Gartner theory.

Do you believe you have to upgrade OS by OS without skipping a generation? Answers readily accepted at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 10/03/2012 at 1:19 PM


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