Windows 7 Hype Should Not Alter Windows Vista Deployment Plans

G00162749

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Summary

Microsoft's Windows 7 will offer improved usability and functions over Windows Vista. But organizations should stick with Vista deployment plans, because most will not be ready to deploy Windows 7 until mid-2011 or later.

News Analysis

Event

On 28 October 2008, Microsoft offered the first details on the next version of Windows, "Windows 7," at its Professional Developers Conference. While Microsoft remains circumspect about its targets, we expect Windows 7 will ship in advance of the 2009 holiday season.

Windows 7 features will include:

  • A streamlined user interface, which includes improvement in discoverability, personal files and media

  • BitLocker To Go, which enables encryption on removable devices that enterprises can enforce via policy

  • AppLocker group policies, allowing better control application installation and execution

  • Improved diagnostics and PowerShell scripting tools

  • BranchCache, which uses peer systems or local servers in a branch office to cache information to improve network performance

  • Hard Links, delivering a fresh OS image without having to wipe and restore data

Analysis

There are two kinds of Windows releases — “plumbing” releases, which make major changes to Windows architecture, and “polishing” releases, which build on the plumbing release, improving usability and functionality. Windows Vista was a plumbing release; Windows 7 is shaping up to be a polishing release, just as Windows XP was a polishing release of Windows 2000. We believe that the name Windows "7" is more a marketing statement to distance the new release from the poorly received Vista than a marker of major architectural changes; it would be better characterized as version 6.x.

Many will see refinements in Windows 7 as a reason to skip Windows Vista. However, the many improvements in Windows 7 do not persuade us to change our advice on Vista deployment. The features target personalized experiences, improved access to information and services, and improvements in device handling, but will not significantly improve compatibility or testing over current Vista versions. Microsoft will likely ship Windows 7 in 3Q09, in time for holiday PC preloads, and organizations will need about a year to ensure application compatibility and independent software vendor (ISV) support for applications. Most organizations will not be ready to deploy Windows 7 until about 18 months after it ships — mid-2011 if it ships on time, and into 2012 if it ships late.

Recommendations

Enterprises:

  • Test applications on Vista and have a remediation plan, even if you plan to skip Vista. Applications that do not run on Vista will likely not run on Windows 7, so skipping Vista will not avoid the cost of remediating them.

  • Consider bringing in Vista on new PCs. This move is the least expensive and lowest-risk alternative, as most organizations cannot effect an inexpensive forklift upgrade of an OS.

  • If your organization plans to try to skip Vista, do not expect to bring in Windows 7 solely via PC attrition, because you will want to eliminate Windows XP by YE2012 to avoid waning application support for XP or problems related to April 2014, when Microsoft security support ends. Plan a forklift migration to Windows 7 around 2012.

  • Focus on your OS deployment capabilities and target date to eliminate XP before ISV support wanes. Reduce risk all around, not just on specific features.

Recommended Reading

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© 2008 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction and distribution of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Although Gartners research may discuss legal issues related to the information technology business, Gartner does not provide legal advice or services and its research should not be construed or used as such. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

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