Five reasons why skipping Windows Vista could backfire

As organisations weigh what to do with Windows XP OS upgrades, the thought of leapfrogging the much-maligned Vista comes to mind, but be warned, it could be dicey.


A report from research firm Gartner says bypassing Vista and migrating directly to Windows 7, requires careful consideration. Written by Gartner analyst Michael Silver, the report states that most organisations should not skip Windows Vista entirely and should install Vista on new PCs as they are deployed.

The main reason they cite is that ISVs (independent software vendors) don't support old versions of Windows long enough, or new versions of Windows soon enough. Also, Silver suggests in the report, Windows 7 is not likely not to arrive on time.

"What many enterprises don't realise from their initial analyses is that the next version of Windows may be delivered later than Microsoft says, and be just as unsuitable for immediate deployment," writes Silver.

For example, organisations that skipped Windows 98, Windows 2000 and Windows XP often had ISV support issues, as well as difficult and rushed migrations.

"Organisations that try to skip Windows Vista are likely to have the same problems," Silver added, in an interview.

In general, skipping a version of Windows means deploying the next version very early in its lifecycle. You become an early adopter of an unproven OS, which carries the risk of waiting 12 to 18 months for ISV support, testing applications, building images and piloting before the new OS can actually be deployed, Silver says.

The only companies that may be able to skip Vista entirely are ones doing forklift migrations (updating hardware and OS all at once) and that also don't plan to deploy Windows 7 until mid-2011, Silver says. This would be 18 months after Microsoft's stated Windows 7 ship date, the estimated time that Windows 7 will be mature and stable enough to deploy, in Gartner's view.

But even those companies are somewhat vulnerable to skipping Vista, Silver says, because, "Windows 7 is an unknown entity with unknown features and an uncertain time frame. Skipping Windows Vista doesn't mean that the work necessary to remediate applications for Windows Vista will be eliminated; much of the same work will be needed to prepare for Windows 7."

With that said, here are five issues that Gartner suggests organisations thinking of skipping Vista should mull over:

1. Software Vendors Don't Support Old OSes Long Enough

Although Windows XP will be supported with security fixes into 2014, many ISVs won't support their products on Windows XP for that long, and Microsoft and the ISVs often won't support new versions of their software on older operating systems, Gartner advises.

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