Migrating your computers to the Windows 7 operating system can be relatively painless if you do some advance planning – that’s the conclusion of a study carried out by security firm Symantec, which has more than 10 years’ experience with Windows migrations.
"The purpose of the survey was to capture some of the best practices or some of the experiences of those businesses that had already gone through the process, so we could share it with companies that have yet to go through that migration process,” says Steve Martin, Symantec’s director, Small and Mid-Sized Businesses and Distribution, Pacific region.
The survey interviewed more than 1300 IT managers from small to large businesses worldwide, and found that preparation time played a key role in the impact that migration had on the business.
"Those that put in around 20 hours of planning for their migration had significantly better results, so the migration resulted in downtime for end-users of approximately two hours, and 60% of the end-user community were extremely satisfied with the migration,” Martin says. "When we compared that with companies that only spent a minimal amount of time – about eight hours of planning – they had an average of about six hours of downtime per end-user and only 25% reported that they were extremely satisfied with the migration.”
Martin offers the following advice for businesses switching to Windows 7:
Ensure you’ve got the tools to automate your whole planning and execution process – it’s just too hard to do it manually. Use those tools to firstly understand and discover what your PC fleet looks like: disk space, memory availability, CPU speed, etc. so you can understand what hardware you might need to upgrade before you do the migration, and what you can use of what you’ve already got in your fleet.
Understand what applications are being deployed across your desktop fleets, and test those with W7 to make sure you’ve got the appropriate strategies to migrate those applications over to W7 or update the versions if they need updating.
Capture each user’s settings and personality profile: screensavers, bookmarks, files and directories, through to the way that they set their icons within their word processor or spreadsheets, etc.
Once you’ve got all that stuff, automate the operating system migration: back up your system, migrate it to W7, then reinstall the personalisations, files and applications for each user.
Make sure that it all works: check outcomes, understanding where errors might have occurred and how to address them.