Gartner has prepared a list of factors that enterprises should consider before making the inevitable move to Windows 7.
Microsoft's latest operating system is due on 22 October, and Gartner described it as a significant improvement over Vista. The new software is architecturally similar, the analyst firm said, and should allow for a fairly smooth upgrade.
"Windows 7 has improvements in memory management to allow users a better experience than with Vista on PCs with similar or even slightly lower specifications," said Michael Silver, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
"It adds other features of interest to organisations, as well as to consumers. It is important for Microsoft to get off to a good start with Windows 7 to build momentum and put the problems of Vista behind it.
"While organisations that skipped Windows 2000 and waited for XP had some problems spanning the gap, organisations that adopted Windows 2000 and tried to skip Windows XP, waiting for Vista, had a much harder time."
Fittingly, the five actions that Gartner believes companies should take before moving to Windows 7 include not skipping Windows 7. Organisations should also plan to be off Windows XP by the end of 2012.
"New releases of critical business software will require Windows 7 long before Microsoft support for Windows XP ends," said Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner.
"Organisations that get all of their users off Windows XP by the end of 2012 will avoid significant potential problems."
Supporting this is the suggestion that companies start working on migration projects now. Gartner explained that enterprises would typically need 12 to 18 months before deploying the new operating system.
Next on the list is not waiting for Windows 7 SP1 to begin testing and deployment, and Gartner stressed that firms should start work now.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly in these cash-strapped times, Gartner urged companies to budget carefully. The analyst firm said that migration costs could be $1,035 to $1,930 (£635 to £1,185) per user to move from Windows XP to Windows 7, and $339 to $510 (£208 to £313) per user to move from Windows Vista to Windows 7, depending on how the migration is approached.
However, Gartner does not expect to see sales of the new operating system having a dramatic effect on hardware sales.
"The Windows 7 release will generate renewed interest in hardware upgrades in consumers and small businesses following its release, but corporate demand is not expected to gain momentum until the end of 2010," said Charles Smulders, managing vice president at Gartner.
"An overdue PC hardware upgrade cycle, and the economic environment, will be as equally important as Windows 7 in determining final demand in 2010."
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