Moving to Windows 7 will be "inevitable" - report

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Windows 7 is not a major architectural shift but "builds on the plumbing changes Microsoft made in Windows Vista," according to a report from a market analyst.

Gartner senior analyst Michael Silver said that it is "all but inevitable" for most organizations to move to it. But that doesn't mean there will be a significant boost in Windows 7 immediately.

"The Windows 7 release will generate renewed interest in consumers and small businesses following its release, but corporate demand is not expected to gain momentum until the end of 2010," said Charles Smulders, managing VP at Gartner. "An overdue PC hardware upgrade cycle and the economic environment will be as equally important as Windows 7 in determining final demand in 2010."

Organizations are cautioned to think about five things before they shift to Windows 7.  They should plan to move off Windows XP by the end of 2012, and avoid significant support problems in the future.

They should start migration projects now - because moving typically takes 12 to 18 months.

They shouldn't skip Windows 7. "Organizations that skipped Windows 2000 and waited for XP had some problems spanning the gap," said Silver.

Large organizations should also budget carefully because migration costs could be as much as $1,930 per user to move from XP to Windows 7, and up to $510 to switch from Vista to Windows 7.

Finally, organizations shouldn't wait for Windows 7 SP1 to begin testing and deployment, especially if they've skipped using Windows Vista.