By: Randy Littleson
By now, many companies have successfully completed their Windows 7 migration and solved the Windows 7 application compatibility challenges that this project inevitably brings to bear. According to various sources, this is where Windows 7 migrations globally currently stand:
- According to a Microsoft spokesperson quoted in February 2012, one-third of business PCs have upgraded to Windows 7 since it was released in late 2009. Gartner predicts that Windows XP market share will continue to decline to under 5 percent by early 2013.
- Organizations that have not yet migrated (or started detailed planning) from Windows XP are "really, really late" according to Gartner. The same article quoted Gartner saying that "about 5 to 10 percent of the industry" is still not thinking about these migration issues.
- In a May 2012 webinar, Michael A. Silver, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said the issue of migration was still a big concern.
- According to Gartner, it typically takes six to 12 months to complete an OS migration.
- My own experience has been that North American companies seem to be further ahead, with Europe and Asia-Pacific slightly behind on the adoption curve.
On April 18, 2014, Microsoft will "end of life" Windows XP – which by that time will be more than 13 years old – meaning Microsoft will no longer support it or offer updates or patches. At the same time, Windows 8 is quickly approaching. However, Gartner believes most companies will skip Windows 8 altogether and even Microsoft acknowledges, "for the enterprise, the path to Windows 8 is through Windows 7."
As many companies have already completed their Windows 7 migrations, quite a bit has been learned about the processes, technical challenges, and best practices in ensuring a successful migration. I would like to share some of these best practices:
Establish an Application Readiness process—in order to manage the complexity of migrating all of your applications successfully to Windows 7, you need to establish an Application Readiness process. Such a process would include the following steps:
- Identify—identify deployed and used applications
- Rationalize—eliminate duplicate applications
- Assess compatibility—determine suitability for migration/upgrade
- Plan—plan migration in line with business objectives
- Fix and Package—convert applications to required format
- Deploy—deploy packaged applications (using SCCM or an enterprise app store)
- Such a process is essential to managing a complex project like this, but also establishes consistency and best practices for on-going Application Readiness processes. In a typical company, 30% of the applications change each year and need to be put through this same process, so establishing it now ensures that you have a successful migration and an on-going best practice process in place.
- It's more than a Windows 7 migration—most companies have used their Windows 7 migration project to evaluate whether or not their applications are optimally deployed. Thus, most companies are combining Windows 7 migrations with application virtualization, private cloud and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) projects to solve compatibility issues, gain efficiencies and streamline ongoing application management processes. Since you need to evaluate and manage your entire application estate through the migration process, it's a great time to leverage these new technologies to gain further benefits.
- It's more than just Windows 7 application compatibility—as a result of #2, the focus needs to be on more than just Windows 7 application compatibility. Holistically assessing application compatibility needs to be integral and baked into your Application Readiness process, and it needs to cover Windows 7 application compatibility, application virtualization compatibility assessment, web application assessment and virtual desktop assessment to ensure that all the desired destinations are assessed for each application. It appears that very few companies are standardizing on a single vendor for their virtualization and/or cloud infrastructures—choosing instead to go with the best solution for the type of deployments that they choose to utilize. Therefore, application compatibility assessment needs to be equally agnostic and help you assess the right solution for your needs.
- Leverage the right tools to automate your business processes—like any critical business process, your Application Readiness process should be automated to the extent possible. Choose an Application Readiness solution that can help automate and manage this process through all phases as outlined above. Doing so significantly reduces the risk of human error and standardizes each step in the process.
Companies across the globe continue to move to Windows 7 at a rapid clip—but there remains a lot of work to do. Windows 7 application compatibility is at the heart of any successful migration project. Hopefully these insights, based on experience, will help you ensure that your migration is a success.