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Start migrating now to avoid another XPocalypse – Gartner

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Companies should start planning now to phase out their Windows 7 installations, according to research firm Gartner.

The analyst house said that even though Microsoft has plans to support the OS until 2020, firms should begin drawing up the process of phasing the software out in order to smooth the transition.

Stephen Kleynhans, Gartner research vice-president, said the end of support for Windows XP could teach many companies the value of planning years ahead to migrate from an aging platform to new systems.

"Microsoft recently ended support for Windows XP and even though the end date was set in 2007 based on a life cycle support policy Microsoft introduced in 2004, many organizations were not able to completely eliminate the OS by the deadline," Kleynhans explained.

"Nearly a quarter of PCs in organizations were still running Windows XP after support ended, leaving IT to figure out how to secure Windows XP and/or find funding to do so."

In order to avoid a repeat of the XP scenario, Kleynhans said companies should start planning how they will migrate their systems from running Windows 7. In some cases, that transition could be as easy as opting to run Windows 8 on new PCs and slowly moving onto the new platform as individual PCs are upgraded or replaced with new models.

No doubt both Microsoft and PC vendors will be thrilled to hear Gartner's analysis, which didn't mention any other family of operating systems (cough, OS X, cough, Linux).

Despite showing signs of improvement in recent months, the PC market remains grim. A gain in sales from migrating business customers would be more than welcome.

Kleyhans noted, however, that for some firms the best course of action will not be to purchase Windows 8 machines, but rather to skip Windows 8 entirely and hold out for the as yet unreleased Windows 9 aka "Threshold".

So it seems the rule that every other Windows version (Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 9) are the good releases, and the inbetweeners (Windows ME, Windows Vista, Windows 8) are the ones to avoid, is holding out.

"Many organizations, especially those in industries with government oversight or compliance requirements, require applications to be officially supported by the independent software vendor (ISV) and/or go through validation processes to ensure compatibility," Kleyhans wrote.

"Such organizations may find skipping Windows 8 for most devices makes sense."

According to a recent study from NetMarketShare, Windows 7 remains the most popular flavor of the operating system among users. As of July, just over half of all Windows users were running 7, while Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 combined for just over 12 per cent. Windows XP continues to hold just under 25 per cent of the market. ®

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