Windows 7 migration roadmap for Indian CIOs

With Microsoft withdrawing Windows XP support, migration to Windows XP is an inevitable choice. Here are some tips for successful Windows 7 migration.

After the disappointment faced over Vista, there was much apprehension over Windows 7's launch, although XP clearly remained the preferred OS for CIOs. Now with the vendor announcing plans to withdraw support on XP, CIOs have to think of a Windows 7 migration roadmap. "Using Windows as an OS has become a habit," says Umesh Vashishta, the chief information officer and VP - IT at Unitech Ltd.  

So what are the steps to be kept in mind during a Windows 7 migration? Some CIOs help us in drawing a roadmap for smooth migration.

The pricing factor
Evaluating the cost of Windows 7 migration and the resultant value proposition (if any) is now crucial for CIOs, especially since budgets are tight. The cost depends on the number of machines upgraded, new machines and the number of licenses. The amount spent on training should also be factored in. "For around 200 users, it might take two months to complete the Windows 7 migration, along with training and adoption," says Shailesh Joshi, the CIO of Godrej Properties Ltd.

Best practices for Windows 7 migration
Testing: Test a few systems, run all the necessary applications and take user inputs.
Inventory check: Check your inventory. The team should identify the number of new machines needed, upgrades needed, etc.

Timeline: Design a timeline for Windows 7 migration, considering the delivery of the new machines and licenses.

Migration: Carry out the Windows 7 migration activity as planned.

Adoption and training: Conduct training sessions so that users are comfortable using the new OS.

Subbarao Hegde, the chief technology officer of GMR Group, is migrating to Windows 7. The company falls under Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, under which the organization can have standardized Windows operating systems group-wide irrespective of the OS loaded by the OEM. "We have taken the decision to migrate to Windows 7 Enterprise after evaluation of all Windows Vista Enterprise and Business versions," says Hegde.

On the other hand there are some CIOs who do not feel the need for a Windows 7 migration at the moment. Ajay Dhir, Group CIO for JSL Ltd is satisfied with existing Windows XP. "It will not be a major hassle even after Microsoft withdraws support, as it requires no maintenance and support," feels Dhir. But CIOs who have used Windows 7 are optimistic about its features, and looking forward to Windows 7 migration. Windows 7 is lighter and faster than XP or Vista. It takes up less disk space and runs efficiently on PCs with slower processors. Windows 7 offers a far better backup and interface allowing users to choose customized backup locations. It also provides data encryption and password protection of files. This will help reduce backup costs.

Compatibility testing before Windows 7 migration
Once the decision about Windows 7 migration is sealed, it is important to check the hardware compatibility. Organizations using Windows XP and migrating to Windows 7 will require hardware upgrades in many cases. "If possible, use the existing machines — provided they are compatible with the new OS or can be made compatible with minor hardware upgrades. Else, it is recommended that you buy new PCs. It is also advisable to run a pilot test to see if applications work fine. Plan your pilot tests for Windows 7 migration on a department wise manner," says Joshi.

More on Windows 7
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Hegde and his team did a proof of concept (PoC) by running corporate applications on Windows 7. The exercise was to explore features like Bitlocker, DirectAccess, BranchCache, private/public browsing, personal taste theme options and jump lists. It is also critical to have the entire individual user data backed up on external storage before Windows 7 migration.

Another important aspect of the Windows 7 migration roadmap is training. "Since Windows 7 is user-friendly, it would be best to train the users in groups," says Joshi. Hegde of GMR plans to have an adequate end-user training programs after the process of Windows 7 migration.

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