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The opportunities for Windows 7 are being widely discussed in the IT channel. After the low take-up rate of Vista, many organisations are working with old desktops and servers and are viewing Windows 7 seriously as their next migration project.
Talking to some of our partners in the channel, there is a real feeling of optimism.
Transformation projects by definition involve change, which leads to business opportunities for IT sales companies and service providers. Those who have been in the industry for a while will remember the scale of work required when upgrades to Windows 2000 and XP took place. Windows 7 has the potential to be another major opportunity for our industry.
In the corporate space, companies recognise that one of the biggest barriers to Windows 7 adoption is still application compatibility. So how ready are your clients' applications for Windows 7? Will compatibility issues create blockers in the channel for what could otherwise be a great revenue-generating opportunity?
The Windows 7 operating system is built on the same kernel as Vista. As a result, issues that applications have with this operating system will be the same with Windows 7. Software authors have been fixing application compatibility issues with Vista, so many will work better on Windows 7. However, there are extra features in Windows 7 that could cause additional compatibility issues.
Let's look at some hard numbers. ChangeBASE and our partners have conducted more than 20 Windows 7 compatibility assessments for global organisations, each with thousands of applications. Our findings show that 20%-40% are ready for Windows 7 and that 60-80% of a typical application portfolio will need some remediation to meet the deployment requirements for Windows 7. About 5% of applications have a specific problem that needs to be addressed by the software vendor or programmer.
There is some good news to take out of this potential concern. Technologies from companies such as ChangeBASE can automatically fix most of the compatibility issues an application has in minutes. As a result, it is now possible for resellers to get 95% or more applications running on Windows 7 with very little effort. Comprehensive compatibility assessment reports will enable resellers to ensure that their customers' application portfolios and packages are fully ready for the transition to Windows 7, as well as being compliant with Microsoft and industry standards.
Automated fixing technologies solve most of these issues. This is important, given the addition of security features.
In terms of opportunity for resellers, the add-on value of professional services combined with a technology that identifies and fixes migration issues can not only form an additional revenue stream, but also enhance existing reseller/customer relations as well as bringing new business opportunities to fruition.
In summary, the channel shouldn't fear the migration process. While migrating customers to Windows 7 could present a number of application compatibility problems, these issues can be quickly addressed, and problems automatically resolved if the right steps are taken.
If resellers prepare correctly, they can quickly reap the benefits of moving their clients to Windows 7, gain new customers and earn good margins without suffering the pain many previous migrations have caused.
John Tate is managing director of ChangeBASE AOK