Windows 7 Migration to Raise IT Costs, Say Experts

Dennis Faas's picture

It seems that while the highly-acclaimed Windows 7 could ease headaches for IT professionals, installing the new operating system (OS) will prove costly for companies making the transition from the decade-old standby, Windows XP.

Industry analysts Gartner in a recent study predicted IT budgets will balloon as more businesses make the switch to Windows 7. The report says many companies may need to divert finances from other sectors in order to help negate the cost associated with upgrading their OS.

Software, Hardware Upgrades Out of Sync

The big problem is that many firms will upgrade their operating system from XP to Windows 7 without making a similar improvement to their hardware. This actually increases costs, because it's cheaper to upgrade an operating system and hardware at the same time.

"Corporate IT departments typically prefer to migrate PC operating systems via hardware attrition, which means bringing in the new OS as they replace hardware through a normal refresh cycle," Gartner managing vice president Charles Smulders said.

"With most migrations not starting until the fourth quarter of 2010 at the earliest, and PC hardware replacement cycles typically running at four to five years, most organizations will not be able to migrate to Windows 7 through usual planned hardware refresh before support for Windows XP ends." (Source:

Cheaper to Go All New, than to Upgrade

In fact, Gartner says a company replacing an operating system on 10,000 PCs will probably spend as much money as if they were to replace each system, hardware and software together. (Source:

The likelihood that many companies are currently using PCs that cannot properly run Windows 7 also presents a problem. If a system struggles on the new OS, productivity is likely to suffer.

Pressure Builds as XP Cutoff Looms

Microsoft has said it will phase out all support for Windows XP by 2014, meaning stress will build on IT budgets over the next four years.

"Based on an accelerated upgrade, we expect that the proportion of the budget spent on PCs will need to increase between 20 percent as a best-case scenario and 60 percent at worst in 2011 and 2012," said Gartner research VP, Steve Kleyhans.

"Assuming that PCs account for 15 percent of a typical IT budget, this means that this percentage will increase to 18 percent (best case) and 24 percent (worst case) which could have a profound effect on IT spending and on funding for associated projects during both those years."

Rate this article: 
No votes yet