Will your clients skip Windows Vista on their way to Windows 7?

Many experts recommend that users upgrade Windows XP systems to Windows Vista for a smoother migration to Windows 7. Find out why (for the most part) Susan Harkins doesn't agree.

 In December 2008, Stuart J. Johnston reported on that nearly 50% of IT shops plan to skip Windows Vista and move straight to Windows 7. However, most experts recommend the Windows Vista route for a variety of reasons, which include:

  • Windows 7 is similar to Windows Vista, so users upgrading to Windows 7 directly from Windows Vista will need less time to adjust.
  • Organizations experiencing problems migrating to Windows Vista will experience similar problems if they upgrade to Windows 7 from Windows XP. So, they might as well work through those issues now.
  • You can keep users working on Windows XP while testing applications on Windows Vista. Later, the upgrade to Windows 7 should be reasonably trouble-free because you worked through incompatibility issues in Windows Vista.

On the other hand, as IT budgets shrink and Windows XP continues to get the job done, it will be almost impossible to justify the cost of upgrading to Windows Vista just to make it easier to migrate to Windows 7.

The deal breaker is Microsoft's decision not to offer migration tools for the upgrade. If you were hoping the trip to Windows 7 via Windows Vista would be less bumpy, you can just stay on the Windows XP stagecoach — it won't make any difference.

If you recommend the Windows Vista route to your clients, be careful. In my opinion, the testing scenario is the only good reason to upgrade to Windows Vista if you haven't done so already. Without a sound business reason for doing so, clients might view your advice as an upgrade for the sake of upgrading. You really don't want your clients suspecting that you'd generate work just to benefit your bottom line. Selling clients on the Windows Vista upgrade without a business-related reason for doing so might be a hard sell.

When you upgrade your consulting client's Windows XP systems to Windows 7, will you upgrade to Windows Vista and then Windows 7? Or, will you be contrary and upgrade from Windows XP directly to Windows 7? I recommend that you skip Windows Vista, unless it solves a business problem for your consulting clients. Take these quick polls to let us know your clients' plans, as well as your recommendation to clients.

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Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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