Companies that are still running Windows 7 should start planning now to upgrade their systems if they want to avoid problems transitioning to the successor to Windows 8, currently known only as “Threshold," according to analysts from research firm Gartner Inc. Microsoft is planning to offer support for the popular OS until 2020.
“The end of support for Windows 7 will be January, 2020, assuming there are no changes to its current support life cycle,” Stephen Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner said in a blog post on Tuesday. “While this feels like it's a long way off, organizations must start planning now, so they can prevent a recurrence of what happened with Windows XP.”
Memories of a Debacle
According to Gartner, many IT departments found themselves scrambling when Microsoft pulled support for the XP operating system. Almost 25 percent of all PCs were still running XP when support ended, forcing a rushed and chaotic transition to Windows 7. Enterprises and organizations now find themselves in a very similar situation: four-and-a-half years remain until Windows 7 is put out to pasture, roughly the same amount of time Windows XP had left when Windows 7 was first introduced.
But just because organizations should start planning their migrations now does not mean they should rush to implement Windows 8, the latest version of Microsoft's OS, immediately. In fact, Gartner argues against removing Windows 7 from existing machines in favor of Windows 8. “We see little value in doing this, and do not recommend it without a solid business case,” Kleynhans said in the blog post.
Instead, Gartner recommends one of two strategies for enterprises to migrate away from Windows 7. The first option is to install Windows 8 on new machines as they are acquired. This strategy gradually shifts an organization's implementation away from Windows 7 over time.
The second option would be to skip Windows 8 altogether, and wait until Microsoft releases its Threshold version, or perhaps even the version after that, depending on how much of a upgrade over Windows 8 Threshold represents. “We believe most organizations will do this,” Kleynhans said.
Although likely to be a popular strategy, the second strategy comes with a risk: many companies adopting this method will likely still be using Windows 7 when implementation ends.
Smoother, But Still Bumpy
The good news is that Microsoft has made some changes to the way it rolls out its upgrades that should make things easier for IT managers. “Microsoft has moved to a more fluid approach to releasing and updating Windows,” according to Kleynhans. “In the 18 months since its release, Windows 8 has had two significant updates, and we expect more during the next year.”
Companies that are already running Windows 8 on some of their devices, should not avoid deploying new devices on the OS. However, Windows 8.1 Update 2 is likely to enter the market soon, so it may make sense for IT managers to hold off on a broad roll out until then.
Although Microsoft has made the upgrade process smoother, companies are still likely to encounter some speed bumps along the way. Organizations requiring compliance and application validation will likely find that deploying Windows 8 and keeping current may be impossible. Consulting with software providers will be necessary to ensure their are fully supported and validated.
Posted: 2014-08-17 @ 4:02pm PT
Edward Jean Steichen an American photographer, once said no photographer is as good as the simplist camera. Well the same should apply to PCs. The constant reinvention of the OS, does it really help the end user perform faster and more efficiently? Granted there may be security benefits, but at the end of the day, word is word, excel is excel and so on. Adding fancy buttons and such to Windows will not improve productivity.
Posted: 2014-08-15 @ 12:25am PT
I AM still using my XP. TOO LONG in the tooth now to change. I got an UPDATE from WINDOWS this week for my XP.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 4:28pm PT
You should switch and upgrade. Just create a new partition on the same hard drive and install whatever os. That way you will have xp, 7, 8, nux, mac all on the same hd.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 2:49pm PT
I just have to laugh when people say "linux". It's so unintuitive that 99% of the users out there would be pulling their hair out to just find their new "Word" app.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 2:36pm PT
Yes, plan your move. Get Ubuntu Linux, with a clear and nearly seamless upgrading path year after year. You can still run your old Windows XP, or even Windows 16bit applications, using Winehq.org. Don't let Microsoft dictate your agenda.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 2:28pm PT
We're still using XP, as well. There remains no real business case to subject ourselves to the shortcomings of Windows 7/8. We use third party tools to fortify against potential security issues. And with XP being yesterday's news, we're not seeing as many new viruses and malware popping up since attention seems to be focused on the newer WinOS versions. We do keep our sanity by doing a majority of our daily work on OSX.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 2:27pm PT
Starting with 'Windows 95', I thought (for Home users especially) it would have made sense to have 'Windows 96', 97, 98, 99, 2000, 2001.... with each year being the current version with all updates. I thought that was their marketing idea when 95 came out: incentive for non-techies to upgrade (thinking: mine is old). So this year, you could buy 'Windows 2014' in stores.
I think they should keep a 'conventional desktop' version AND a chiclet desktop version. Unless I'm using a touch screen, there's no advantage to having a tablet interface on a desktop. When sitting at desk, a mouse is more comfortable than reaching to the screen.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 2:05pm PT
Linux 4 life.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 2:03pm PT
If Microsoft can't produce a better OS than Windows 7, we simply won't upgrade, regardless of whether they offer support.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 1:57pm PT
After Win 7 ends, it will be time to move to Apple.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 1:46pm PT
Hah! My company still has me using an XP machine! Maybe I'll get windows 7 in 2020.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 1:44pm PT
Gartner is not thinking this through...
Deploying Windows 8 now, in expectation of a smoother transition to "Threshold" (or it's successor) will potentially leave just as much work to be done when transitioning to the follow-on...
For IT departments, the transition from XP to Windows 7 was NEVER smooth, even for those doing this years ahead of loss-of-support. As one example, new driver frameworks obsoleted WHOLE INDUSTRIES!!!
Ask any manufacturer with machine tool networking, using NetBEUI, for instance. That scenario continues to be a nightmare!
And get the math straight! "four-and-a-half years remain until Windows 7 is put out to pasture"
Ahh-more like 5-1/2...
No one outside (or most even within) Microsoft knows what comes next, as a challenge to implementing a transition to a "mythical" after-Win8 OS -- and using Win8 to transition makes no more sense now, than it ever did...
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 1:39pm PT
I'm still stuck with XP. Other machines we use have no drivers to work with anything newer than XP. Can't change that situation, so will stay with XP.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 1:39pm PT
Great! Microsoft retires Win 7 before they even have a deserving replacement. What are the odds they will have anything decent six years from now? Then, they will make Win 11 work like Win 7 in 2025.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 1:38pm PT
@th46 - You realize Apple changes their OS more frequently than Microsoft right?
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 1:28pm PT
Tired of Microsoft and all their versions of Windows, when Windows 7 is over I'll be switching to Apple.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 1:24pm PT
I hate all this "upgrade" stuff. When something works fine and does all I need, any change is a waste of time, but the producer and sales just want to make more money trying to convince me of their lies.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 1:22pm PT
"...plan your move from Windows 7 now". You're kidding me right? I'd rather go back to XP.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 1:18pm PT
It isn't companies fault they stuck with XP. Vista was awful - then switching to 7 - the control panel is different requiring training and there was a lot of compatibility issues with internally produces and even commercial software that would not run on 7. Companies didn't want to install the XP virtual machine either due to various issues. I put the blame on Microsoft for making bad software and then making upgrades difficult.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 1:03pm PT
When support stops for 7 I will be going to apple.
Posted: 2014-08-14 @ 1:03pm PT
People will be sticking with Windows 7 until that abortion Windows 8 is replaced. Even pro-Microsoft bloggers are calling it Vista 2.0. Get real!