Windows 7 Migration 'Sapping Resources'

The migration to Windows 7 takes up the time of half an IT department's staff, according to managers.

But research also demonstrated that IT departments see Windows 7 migration as important, in spite of the resources needed. Some 1,360 IT managers were interviewed for the research, commissioned by security firm Symantec.

The research showed that almost a quarter of firms (23 percent) were migrating to Windows 7 from Windows Vista, just three years after that product's launch. Therefore migrations were not just an opportunity to replace Windows XP, which is coming to the end of its use, as far as Microsoft support is concerned.

Symantec found that the typical Windows 7 planning and migration process actively involves half of all IT staff. In a separate study, analyst Gartner found that firms spend 12 to 18 months on the planning process alone. The Symantec survey also showed the Windows 7 migration took longer than expected, with application incompatibility (cited by 52 percent) as the biggest cause of delays.

The Symantec research shows IT managers are largely positive about the overall benefits of their Windows 7 migration. When asked about factors that had "somewhat or significantly increased" post migration, performance was cited by 79 per cent, followed by end user experience and security (76 per cent for each).

Other positive factors were reliability (74 per cent), ease of use (69 per cent) and end point management (66 per cent).

Other findings of the Windows 7 migration report:

-Preparation: respondents said their IT teams spent an average of ten hours preparing for the upgrade - including planning, training, and performing pilot tests.

-Migration process: the average length of time taken to migrate each existing machine running an old operating system was five hours, however this was reduced to four hours if it was a fresh install on a new machine

-Automation: respondent feedback indicated that if an organisation had at least ten PCs, it was worth automating the migration process.

-Give the whole system a face-lift: many organisations said they used their upgrade to Windows 7 as an opportunity to implement standardisation, deploy a virtual desktop interface, and additional security measures. In order to handle applications that are not yet compatible with the new operating system, 71 percent of respondents simply replaced them.

-Result: overall, 78 percent of IT teams said that the actual migration process was "smooth", and 63 percent said it was easier than their last migration. Out of the 62 percent of organisations who set ROI (return on investment) goals, 90 percent achieved them.

"For many IT mangers, Windows 7 migration is the most important project of 2010," said Christine Ewing, director of product marketing at the Symantec endpoint management group.

"Our survey demonstrates that whereas some organisations ran into delays such as application incompatibility and budget constraints, most of the organisations surveyed also achieved their key motivations for making the transition, namely increased reliability, improved performance and end-user experience."

Microsoft last week said it had so far sold 240 million Windows 7 licences.

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