4. Don't skip Windows 7. You might be thinking, "XP works perfectly well, is stable and mature, and there's no reason to retrain users and go through the whole upgrade effort. I'll just wait for Windows 8 when it comes in 2012." The analysts at Gartner argue that's a mistake. I like the wording on the Garner site: Its analysts say Windows 7 "is a 'polishing' release on top of the architectural change that the Windows Vista 'plumbing' release delivered." They contend polishing releases should never be skipped. For those who doubt that, they remind you how poorly it worked out for those who tried to go from Windows 2000 to Vista by skipping XP.
5. Budget carefully -- migration costs vary significantly. Gartner says the cost of migration from XP to Windows 7 to be $1,000 to $2,000 per user and about $350 to $500 to go from Vista to Windows 7. It's a huge variation that argues for some early testing now to get a handle on your actual costs. Gartner's Windows analyst Mike Silver recommends that companies make new hardware purchases with Windows 7 preinstalled but "downgrade" to Windows XP if you're not ready to deploy Windows 7 just yet. Microsoft is allowing these "downgrades" at no additional charge until April 22, 2011, or until the first service pack for Windows 7 is released (whichever comes first). If you don't have a Software Assurance contract or new PCs with the Windows 7 license, you could end up paying extra for the upgrade later on. Thus, planning your PC purchasing into 2010 is an important factor in minimizing costs because Microsoft is going to charge $120 or more per PC for an upgrade license if you aren't ready to deploy. (You can see more of Silver's advice in his YouTube video.)
As much as I would love to believe that the drive to Windows 7 is all because of the warm and fuzzy feeling corporate decision-makers get when they use it, I know that isn't the case when it comes to spending thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars for an OS upgrade. Nevertheless, I'm pleased to know that the move "is inevitable" in going forward.
Is that the case for your company? Do you have a migration strategy in place or in the process? How long before your environment rolls out Windows 7? Let the readers know in the comments section below.