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Planning your Windows 7 deployment

By: Randy Littleson

In my last post, I talked about Windows 7 Application Compatibility – 4 Things We’ve Learned. In this post, I want to look at the broader topic of Windows 7 deployments and some of the best practices and issues associated with it. Certainly Windows 7 application compatibility is near the front of that list, but there are other considerations.

One key factor that many enterprises must decide on is whether they are doing just a Windows 7 deployment, or if they are going to combine that project with others – whether it be BYOD, application virtualization, desktop transformation, or a host of other related initiatives.

A research SearchEnterpriseDesktop article on TechTarget entitled Despite BYOD and cloud, it’s business as usual for Windows migrations had this to say:

Windows 7 was launched in October 2009, but it still accounts for less than 50% of enterprise operating systems. As of June 2012, Windows XP accounted for 44% of the enterprise desktop OS market, down from 56% a year ago and 64% two years ago, according to the latest figures from Net Applications, an applications vendor and research firm based in Aliso Viejo, Calif. Windows 7 accounted for 42% of the enterprise desktop OS market, and it’s expected to pass XP adoption rates by the end of the third quarter of 2012.

These are global numbers. Windows 7 migrations have been happening faster in North America. Some estimates have adoption as high as 60% in North America with EMEA at about 46% of desktops and APAC coming in at about 20%.

It went on to say:

The trick — and it’s a complicated one — is for IT to figure out how desktops, consumerization and mobility augment one another, then implement the technology to empower end users, all within a set budget.

From what I have seen, it appears that application virtualization is tightly aligned with Windows 7 migrations and is being done concurrently in a high percentage of cases. Many other initiatives are being implemented at the same time, but not as broadly as application virtualization. They tend to be distinct initiatives with their own budgets.

When it comes to actually planning the Windows 7 migration, there are two schools of thought on the best approach (you can access Microsoft upgrade and migration tools here). You can either push out the migration as the usual operating system update, or to do so as part of the PC refresh cycle. The jury is out as to which is best, but to have a clean image when migrating as part of the new PC cycle invariably simplifies the number of supported configurations, thereby decreasing drift in images. The ideal scenario, then, is going with the refresh cycle, but since many waited too long, they have to opt for the former.

According to a research report cited in an eWeek article entitled How to Successfully Migrate to Windows 7 companies indicated that approximately half of their IT staff were needed in the migration process and 54% used automation to simplify the upgrade. Many of the IT professionals surveyed felt automation was justified for any company with 10 or more PCs.

That same article cited planning, training and pilot testing as most critical to a successful Windows 7 deployment.

A huge benefit to those who still have to upgrade is the growing pool of resources based on the experiences of those that have already traveled this path. Tap into resources online and use social media outlets to compare notes so you can learn from their experiences.

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