Six months ago Microsoft began shipping Windows 7. Greg Lambert, chief technical architect at app compatibility specialist Changebase AOK, has worked with some of the world's biggest enterprises supporting their Windows 7 migrations and examines the trends and feedback he has seen to date.
In our experience, Windows 7 has brought a multitude of benefits and rejuvenation to the enterprise. For the majority of organisations Windows 7 is their first major OS migration in five years - having been working with old desktops and/or servers, deciding to skip Vista entirely and stay with XP or earlier operating systems. Windows 7 has had a completely unprecedented start in its first six months and, from the work we've been doing, has been well received by IT professionals and users alike.
We are seeing two big drivers behind the uptake levels of Windows 7.
- The ease and speed with which even large-scale migrations can be rolled out
- The ability to future-proof the management of the application estate once the migration has been completed.
Both these factors have certainly been key in leading to the higher than expected adoption figures in the first six months.
We have also seen that Windows 7 is driving the wide-scale take-up of 64-bit computing. Many of our customers are worried that they will have application compatibility problems with an upgrade to a 64-bit environment. However, after analysing their application estate they realise these issues can be automatically addressed which means they can opt for the more powerful 64-bit option. This is a win/win situation for both the enterprise and Microsoft.
However, significant compatibility challenges still exist with applications three years beyond their initial release date. But these can be easily fixed and migrated to Windows 7. This issue can often slow down any wide-scale IT upgrade for organisations of all sizes, but the good news is that application compatibility is no longer the show-stopper it used to be. With the right planning and tools in place, issues can be quickly addressed and problems automatically resolved. Through adopting sensible migration processes we are seeing enterprises save a huge amount of man-hours and in some cases millions of pounds or more in costs.
Looking back on the research Changebase conducted with senior IT decision-makers ahead of the Windows 7 launch in October 2009, the results showed that more than 65% of organisations hoped to migrate to Windows 7 within 12 months. However, based on our experience, since then that number has risen and is more like 80%, with more than 50% choosing the 64-bit route.