Microsoft's Windows 7 could burden businesses' IT budgets if they agree to an accelerated migration from Windows XP and Windows 2000, according to a Gartner research note.
Microsoft may promote Windows 7 as an essential element of
the next-generation office, but a new research note from Gartner suggests that
upgrading from Windows XP and Windows 2000 could create a burden on companies'
"Corporate IT departments typically prefer to migrate PC
operating systems (OSs) via hardware attrition, which means bringing in the new
OS as they replace hardware through a normal refresh cycle," Charles Smulders,
managing vice president at Gartner, wrote in an Aug. 26
. "Microsoft will support Windows XP for four more years. With most migrations not starting until the fourth
quarter of 2010 at the earliest, and with PC hardware replacement cycles
running at four to five years, most organizations will not be able to migrate
to Windows 7 through usual planned hardware refresh before support for Windows
That means organizations will possibly need to accelerate
their Windows 7 migration in 2011 and 2012, in order to beat that closing
timeframe for Windows XP support-which in turn could translate into higher
costs in both IT labor and infrastructure. Extended support for Windows XP SP3
is scheduled to end in April 2014, with no updates or patches after that point.
Gartner previously suggested that a general lack of XP
support from ISVs will start around the end of 2011, with
a support "XP danger zone" developing at the end of 2012
Gartner estimates the costs of an accelerated migration in
an office of 10,000 PCs where all units will be replaced at between $1,205 and
$1,999 per PC. Capital costs would account for 60 percent of that total cost.
Upgrading those PCs, instead of replacing them, will
translate into a migration cost of $1,274 and $2,069 per PC. In this scenario,
lower capital costs are offset by higher labor costs associated with the
migration; in addition, Gartner approximates that 25 percent of PCs would need
a hardware upgrade.
Corporations could also consider a partial migration to a hosted
virtual desktop environment, particularly for their data-entry workers, but
Gartner analysts warn that the cost of the associated IT infrastructure will
outweigh any potential savings.
"Whether replacing or upgrading PCs, it is clear that
Windows 7 migration will have a noticeable impact on organizations' IT
budgets," Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner, wrote in an Aug.
26 statement. "Based on an accelerated upgrade, we expect that the proportion
of the budget spent on PCs will need to increase between 20 percent as a
best-case scenario and 60 percent at worst in 2011 and 2012."
Windows XP remains an important part of many companies' IT
infrastructure. Given its enduring popularity, Microsoft
made the decision in July to extend the operating system's end-user downgrade
rights for the life cycle of Windows 7
"Our business customers have told us that removing end-user
downgrade rights to Windows XP Professional could be confusing," Brandon
LeBlanc, a spokesperson for Microsoft, wrote
July 12 on The Windows Blog
, "given the rights change would be made for new
PCs preinstalled with Windows 7 and managing a hybrid environment with PCs that
have different end-user rights based on date of purchase would be challenging
Windows XP's downgrade rights had originally been slated to
end with the availability of Windows 7 Service Pack 1. Support for Windows XP
SP2 ended July 12, necessitating an upgrade to Windows XP SP3 for anyone
wanting to stay with the platform instead of upgrading.