Article: Windows 7 Skills Shortage
Posted by Rubel Khan on September 26, 2010
IT pros with Windows 7 skills are — or soon will be — a hot commodity By Stephen Swoyer
Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 7 operating system is popular with enterprise customers, but soon they’ll be under the gun, reports market-watcher Gartner Inc.
The Redmond firm plans to stop supporting its Windows XP operating system in 2014. The upshot is that Windows 7 migration schedules have been severely compressed. According to Gartner’s tally, in fact, enterprises will phase in as many as a quarter of a billion new Windows 7 installations over the next four years.
As a result, Gartner projects, demand for IT pros with Windows 7 migration skills will go through the roof.
"We estimate that large and midsize organizations worldwide will migrate approximately 250 million PCs to Windows 7, during the migration timeline, so it makes sense for organizations that plan to leverage external services to line up service providers early," said Gartner vice president Charles Smulders, in a statement.
He recommends enterprises "begin talks with suppliers now about putting in place contracts that can deliver flexible levels of resources at a fixed rate over the migration period."
Most shops skipped Windows XP’s successor, Windows Vista, planning instead to wait for Windows 7. Although Windows 7 shipped late last year, IT organizations usually don’t deploy untested (or unvalidated) operating environments. (In the case of Microsoft operating systems, Gartner and other industry watchers usually caution shops to wait for the first service pack release before deploying.)
Microsoft is currently prepping Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Windows 7. Once it ships, IT organizations will likely ramp up their migration efforts, but SP1 by itself won’t precipitate a migration free-for-all. In most cases, organizations prefer to phase in new operating systems as part of a scheduled hardware refresh: if a system running Windows XP gets decommissioned, it’s replaced with a new PC running Windows 7.
The rub is the timeline: in many cases, shops were still buying new hardware preloaded with Windows XP less than 12 months ago.
True, many lame-duck systems came with free (or deeply-discounted) upgrade paths to Windows 7. However, an in-place upgrade on top of existing hardware is objectively more expensive than a phased-in upgrade via new hardware.