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Microsoft Windows 7 Migration: You Can’t Afford to Put it Off

Author: Charles Barratt

Almost every IT organisation I have worked with in recent years is struggling with the same question: How do we help the business see IT as a strategic partner rather than a cost centre?

The looming April 2014 end of support date for Microsoft Windows XP and the requisite migration off to Windows 7 or 8.x presents an opportunity for IT to do just that—if IT leaders put in place the right end-user strategy. This strategy should address issues such as the consumerisation of IT, the bring your own device (BYOD) movement, improved work/life balance, and generally providing a higher level of end-user computing (EUC) solution to empower the workforce. Together, these initiatives can improve productivity, job satisfaction, and staff retention.

While the businesses I engage with understand the opportunities presented by Windows 7, they are also struggling to make sense of the myriad EUC solutions available. Rather than getting stuck on a choice between Windows 7 and Windows 8.x, I recommend that IT organizations take this opportunity to step back and reset their entire end-user strategy.

Too often I hear that businesses are forcing IT solutions on end users without consulting them about their needs or wishes. In line with this strategy, many organisations have stuck with Windows XP because it’s “good enough.” By leaning on this “good enough” mentality, IT organizations are missing an opportunity to realize cost savings, increase user productivity, and redefine IT’s value to the business.

Consulting with your end users is no longer optional. But you don’t have to see it as a chore. By listening to users’ needs, you’ll not only end up with a better solution, you’ll also be upleveling internal PR by proving that IT is approachable, flexible, and delivers.

If you are still struggling with the logistics of Windows migration, I recommend migrating to Windows 7 immediately, since that will only simplify a later transition to Windows 8.x (the architecture of the operating systems is very similar). VMware can help you meet challenges of this transition with a suite of technology solutions to provide you with an agile platform for application, data, and desktop management, and the advisory services to help you develop a comprehensive, actionable EUC transformation strategy and roadmap.

Don’t wait to migrate — I can’t overemphasize this. Layering, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and zero-touch PC deployment technologies will help simplify migration and leave you with a more secure, stable, and better-managed PC footprint while significantly avoiding the cost and challenges associated with a physical OS migration project. Leveraging these solutions, your IT department has the ability to deliver a smarter workspace and reduce the issues associated with a physical OS migration project.

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Charles Barratt is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services, based in the UK. You can follow him on Twitter @csbarratt