Microsoft has issued detailed guidance for enterprises considering migration to Windows Vista and Windows 7.
In a new blog post on the company’s “Windows for Your Business” blog, Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft’s senior director of product management for Windows Client, issued guidance stating Microsoft’s views on what enterprises should do in terms of moving to Vista and Windows 7 depending on what platform they currently run and their overall migration goals. Essentially, the company is seeking to dispel confusion customers might have about when to migrate to Windows 7.
“As a first step, we recommend our customers assess their environment to be in a better position to decide what OS they need to deploy,” Schuster said. She said customers should take an inventory of how many applications they manage in their current enterprise environment. Then they should talk to their application vendors to find out how long the vendors intend to provide support for their application running in Windows XP and when they plan to support their application running in Windows 7.
“This will help you assess the maximum length of time that you have to move from Windows XP to Windows 7,” Schuster said. “Then you should assess the level of application compatibility that your applications have with Windows 7 (we recommend you test your applications against Windows Vista as there will be a high degree of compatibility between Windows 7 and Windows Vista)-this will help you assess how many of your applications will need to be upgraded, remediated or replaced in order to work in your new operating environment.”
For users who test their applications against the Windows 7 beta, Schuster said she recommends that, for the mainstream operating system deployment, they later test applications against the RTM (release to manufacturing) release.
In addition, Schuster said customers should assess the hardware compatibility in their environment and what it will be in the 12 to 18 months that it might take to complete the deployment of the new OS.
Whatever the customer plans to do, she said, “the first thing to do is to deploy MDOP [Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack], whether you are moving to Windows 7 or Vista.”
Added Schuster, “We recommend you use what you are running today to make the right decision for your business.”
For instance, she said: “If you are running Windows 2000 in your environment: Migrate your Windows 2000 PCs to Windows Vista as soon as possible. Extended support for Windows 2000 ends Q2 2010, and as an enterprise customer, you may soon find your business’s critical applications are unsupported.”
However, “If you are in the process of planning or deploying Windows Vista: Continue your Windows Vista SP1 deployment. If you’re really in the early stages or just starting on Windows Vista, plan to test and deploy Windows Vista SP2 (on target to RTM Q2 2009). Moving onto Windows Vista now will allow for an easier transition to Windows 7 in the future due to the high degree of compatibility.”
Thinking of Skipping Vista?
And for customers on Windows XP that are undecided about which OS to move to: “Make sure you take into consideration the risk of skipping Windows Vista,” Schuster said. “And know that deploying Windows Vista now will make the future transition to Windows 7 easier.”
Yet, “If you are on Windows XP now and are waiting for Windows 7 … plan on starting an early evaluation of Windows 7 for your company using the beta that’s available now,” Schuster said. “Testing and remediating applications on Windows Vista will ease your Windows 7 deployment due to the high degree of compatibility.”
However, Schuster warned that users waiting to move directly from Windows XP to Windows 7 may find their company in situations where applications are no longer supported on Windows XP and not yet supported on Windows 7.
Moreover, regarding XP users moving directly to Windows 7, Schuster also said in the post:
““You will want to take time to evaluate Windows 7 just as you evaluate any new operating system for your environment prior to deployment. … As Windows 7 is planned to be released in about 3 years after Windows Vista, the total period that many customers will likely be waiting prior to deploying Windows 7 in their environment will likely be in the range of 5 years after Windows Vista release.”“
Schuster said many of the observations in her post and relating to Microsoft’s guidance came out of conversations she has had with Microsoft customers over the last month or two.
“People say, ‘We’re in the middle of a Vista deployment and then you come out with Windows 7 beta; what should I do?”’ Schuster said in an interview with eWEEK.
She said the CIOs she has spoken with are, particularly in this economy, trying to drive cost out of their IT organizations and are also handling the increasing pressures of the consumerization of IT. Windows Vista and Windows 7, along with MDOP, can help CIOs accomplish both goals, Schuster said, adding that Windows Vista is no longer plagued by the issues that cropped up in the months after it was released.
Moreover, Schuster said, some people ask, “Is the investment in Vista wasted?”
“No, we believe in the investment we made in Vista,” Schuster said. “We built Windows 7 on top of Vista. This is not like Windows Millennium” where Microsoft essentially threw out the Millennium technology and moved to Windows XP. “It will be easier to run a heterogeneous environment of Windows Vista and Windows 7 together.”