A year on from the launch of Microsoft Windows 7, in a study commissioned by Symantec, 1,360 IT managers across the globe have shared their experiences and provided advice for their peers looking to make the move.

Overall, IT managers have reacted positively to the new operating system, despite most experiencing delays with the migration process. Just three years after its launch, many have also been keen to move on from Windows Vista with 23 per cent of Windows 7 migrations from its predecessor.

This research finds that the typical Windows 7 planning and migration process will actively involve half of all IT staff. This is particularly significant given that in a separate study, analyst house Gartner suggests that firms spend 12 to 18 months on the planning process alone. The Symantec survey highlights that most companies found the migration took longer than expected, with application incompatibility (cited by 52 percent) as the biggest cause of delays.

However, IT managers were largely positive about the overall benefits of their Windows 7 migration. When asked about factors that had ‘somewhat or significantly increased’ post migration, performance was cited by 79 per cent followed by end user experience and security (76 per cent for each), reliability (74 per cent), ease of use (69 per cent) and end point management (66 per cent).

Other findings include:

  • Preparation: Respondents said that their IT teams spent an average of 10 hours preparing for the upgrade – including planning, training, and performing pilot tests. More than 80 per cent of companies said that this planning, pilot testing and training were extremely important in facilitating the migration and minimising associated cost.
  • Migration process: The average length of time taken to migrate each existing machine running an old operating system is five hours, however this is reduced to four hours if it is a fresh install on a new machine
  • Automation: Respondent feedback indicated that if an organisation had at least 10 PCs, it was worth automating the migration process.
  • Give the whole system a face-lift: Many organisations said they used their upgrade to Windows 7 as an opportunity to implement standardisation, virtual desktop interface, and additional security measures. In order to handle applications that are not yet compatible with the new operating system, 71 percent of respondents simply replaced them.
  • Result: Overall, 78 percent of IT teams said that the actual migration process was smooth, and 63 percent said it was easier than their last migration. Out of the 62 percent of organisations who set ROI goals, 90 percent achieved them.

“For many IT mangers, Windows 7 migration is the most important project of 2010,” said Christine Ewing, Director of Product Marketing, Endpoint Management Group, Symantec. “Our survey demonstrated that whereas some organisations ran into delays such as application incompatibility and budget constraints – most of the organisations surveyed also achieved their key motivations for making the transition, namely increased reliability, improved performance and end-user experience, businesses. Success lay largely in the planning, making best practice key.”