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Forrester: Start Moving to Windows 7 Now

If you're a partner who stands in any way to profit from companies moving to Windows 7, you have to love hearing stuff like this. The analyst honchos at Forrester are telling IT departments that the time to move to Windows 7 is now.

Well, more specifically, the Forrester folks are saying that IT organizations should start planning their migrations now. They give a few not illogical reasons for their recommended urgency, which are, in a nutshell, these:

  1. Microsoft is going to end XP support and make you migrate, anyway. "Extended support" for the legendary OS begins in July, and patches will stop altogether in April 2014, which is not an immensely long time from now, especially considering that XP will be well more than a decade old by then.

  2. Downgrade rights from Windows 7 to XP won't last forever (they'll last 18 months after launch or until the first service pack for 7 arrives, whichever comes first), so buying XP for new PCs could eventually get expensive.

  3. Applications developed for XP won't be around forever, either. Eventually, Windows 7 will become what Vista never became -- the new default Microsoft operating system.

All of that, of course, sounds reasonable enough, even if that third point seems a bit presumptuous. And for partners, Forrester's recommendations could be useful sales tools. But then again, Forrester kept telling companies to move to Vista before adopting Window 7, something most companies haven't done and don't plan to do.

Plus, we're not in a Microsoft-only world anymore. Even if Microsoft kills XP support and downgrade rights die quickly, there's nothing preventing IT departments from looking at, say, Linux, or moving seriously into the cloud and accessing everything through a browser running on just about any OS. Of course, either of those might be a much more expensive proposition in the long run than embracing Windows 7, but Microsoft, now more than ever, isn't the only OS game in town.

That means that Windows 7 needs to be very good -- and, by most accounts, it is. It also means that Microsoft and partners need to convince companies that Windows is still relevant, that there's a business case for Windows 7 vs. XP, and that alternatives (Linux, Mac, the cloud) are either not reliable enough or are eventually more expensive than the newest Windows OS.

So, regardless of what Forrester says, there will be more to convincing companies to migrate this time than just saying, "You're going to have to do it eventually." For the record, we believe that Windows 7 will be a big success for Microsoft and the channel. But it won't be as easy a sell as Windows usually was before Vista.

We've had tons of great tales of Windows 7 migrations come in (and I'll be responding to each of you personally at some point). Add yours to the pile at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on October 21, 2009 at 11:55 AM