Microsoft Windows 7 Transition Should Start in 2010, Says Gartner

Gartner advises businesses to phase out Windows XP by the end of 2012, as ISVs and application builders will be cutting off support for the operating system. Businesses upgrading to Windows 7 should begin planning and testing for the transition in 2010. More than 90 million Windows 7 licenses have been sold since its October 2009 debut.

Windows XP should be eliminated from office PCs by the end of 2012, research company Gartner advised in a report, as ISVs and application builders will be cutting off their support for the aging operating system. The report recommended that organizations planning on a Windows 7 transition begin planning and testing this year.

"In various Gartner polls and surveys, 80 percent of respondents report skipping Windows Vista. With Windows XP getting older and Windows 8 nowhere in sight, organizations need to be planning their migrations to Windows 7," Gartner analyst Michael Silver said in a June 2 statement. "Windows 7 has been getting positive reviews, and many clients report that they have plans to start their production deployments, but there are some that are still undecided about when to start and how quickly to do the migration."

The timetable for a Windows 7 migration should take into account when ISVs can begin providing the right level of support for a business's applications, as well as the time needed to test applications, build images and launch a Windows 7 pilot program, Gartner said. Eliminating XP from an ecosystem is also a delicate matter.

"Taking the attrition approach will immediately identify the time scale for the project," Gartner's report said. "Organizations should consider their PC refresh rate and their target end date in order to determine how many PCs can be moved to Windows 7 by attrition. However, based on the typical PC refresh rate, many organizations will not be able to get Windows XP out by their target end date by moving to Windows 7 by attrition alone."

Planning, testing and piloting Windows 7, Gartner estimated, will require between 12 and 18 months for most organizations.

Days before Windows 7's official launch in October 2009, Gartner predicted in an analyst presentation that most ISVs would end support for XP starting in 2011, with a support "XP danger zone" developing by the end of 2012.

"Typically, more than half of your organization's apps require Windows," Silver and fellow analyst Stephen Kleynhans said in the presentation. "Replacing it is not an option." At the time, Silver and Kleynhans recommended that businesses eliminate XP infrastructure by the end of 2012, well ahead of Microsoft's scheduled termination of security support in April 2014. For Vista, Gartner suggested continuing deployment on new PCs if already started, and then switching to Windows 7 in 2011.

Prior to Windows 7's release, many analysts expected the new operating system to impel a massive corporate tech refresh, with businesses moving to finally upgrade their IT infrastructures after years of recession-tightened budgets. More than 90 million Windows 7 licenses have been sold to date, but while the operating system has proven to be a massive consumer hit, business spending on the operating system has not yet reached the same heady levels.