back to article Gartner: Windows 7 upgrade catch for XP converts

Enterprise computing is never straightforward - and neither is the advice around it. Rare is the large organization whose PC or server operating systems come from a single vendor, and rarer still is the organization whose systems are all running exactly the same version of Microsoft's Windows. And if the software is difficult …


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  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Seven Up!

    I feel like Statler and Waldorf ... observing, with glee and cackling hilarity, the tremendous mass of Windows Seven transforming slowly into a Marketing Train Wreck due to the patented Microsoft mix of hubris and dumbness.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It's a shame

    and appears to have all the hallmarks of an overlarge organisation that is not sharing stuff internally sufficiently well and against it's own good?

  3. Sooty

    working in a large organisation

    that switched from NT to xp just 2 years ago, I can tell you the upgrade issue isn't going to appear for a long time.

    what this probably does mean, is that they are going to gouge companies for unneccesary licences when they do upgrade. rather than downgrade windows 7, they will tack another xp copy onto their corproate licence, and forget all about teh windows 7 licence. When we were on NT, almost every pc (tens of thousands) had an XP home licence sticker on it, who's betting none of these were taken into account when we upgraded!

  4. Wayland Sothcott 1
    Gates Horns

    Microsoft making it difficult

    For home users Vista is OK, it's not worth the bother of installing XP. For businesses with bespoke applications then Vista can be an unnessasary headache. It seems to offer no advantages and plenty of potential problems.

    Windows 7 gets you a more modern OS which actually seems better than both Vista and XP. Companies ought to try and use this, it will help them. It can even work on older hardware as good as XP provided you have 1GB RAM or more (1GB RAM is true of XP now).

    Microsoft should really stop pushing Vista on people, netbook type computers are better with XP version of Windows and businesses are better with XP.

    Why not say that all XP and Windows 7 licences are equivelent from now on.?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gartner not quite right?

    How can a system sold on one day have downgrade rights to XP and the same system sold on the next day not have downgrade rights to XP.

    MS may be going to stop OEMs *pre-installing XP* after a certain date, but I can't see that they can withdraw downgrade rights altogether after a certain date of sale. How would they police this?

    If what Gartner says is true, then anyone running XP after the switch-off date is running XP illegally?.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    It's Gartner again, well done el Reg

    All this only highlights how useful is Gartner advice for those that shell out the cash to hear their "pieces of wisdom" It was about time that someone put on the table that their "strategic" advice amounts to little more to common sense mixed with wisdom gathered over business lunches with IT executives.

    I certainly can provide the same level of quality advice for a pint. At least they have stopped using those ridiculous probability statements, remember those? I only miss not having betted against them, I would be rich by now.

    Common sense advice for IT managers: ignore Gartner, just do what do you think is best for your business. Use Gartner only when you want to support your point of view by impressing IT ignorant people.

  7. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Who's got the problem here?

    Microsoft are still shipping Windows XP with new machines. That being the case, and knowing also that corporate customers are usually slow to upgrade, ISVs have an enormous incentive to ensure that their software targets *XP* and not anything later.

    Microsoft have also committed to providing security patches until the middle of the next decade. That being the case, if XP meets your needs, there's no reason to upgrade.

    Microsoft also know that this is the same situation they faced when Vista came out, and customers responded by not upgrading. If they (MS) take the same approach as last time, they can expect the same outcome.

    And the longer they leave it, the longer others have to polish their support for the *de facto* Windows standard that we call XP.

  8. Doug Glass

    Gotta Love Microsoft

    If for no other reason than the fact they do know how to lovingly treat those loyal corporate customers who have kept them in business so long.

    I know my former corporation is already pulling hair and gnashing teeth over this but have decided they simply must remain loyal to the end and "keep the OEM suppliers healthy".

    I so love a good clown act and these guys are just the very best.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Major FAIL

    Since most businesses I know are still on XP and there is apparently NO upgrade possibility to WIN7, they will be forced to wait until they replace all their current crop of pc's in order to move their user base to WIN7. Many are still getting new machines with it will be 3-4-5 years before they are ready to move to which time MS will be up to WIN8 and wondering why their sales have been so crappy.

    it's teh upgrade and migration path stupid!

  10. Steve Roper

    I saw this coming

    when Vista came out. As the IT manager for a small web development / publishing company, I saw what a piece of shit Vista was and, after some consultation with management, began a product migration which is now about to bear fruit.

    First was the replacement of Internet Explorer with Firefox, and Outlook Express with Thunderbird, on all company machines. A few staff complained, but I stuck to my guns and after a couple of weeks the whinging died down and everyone got used to FF and TB. Next came the gradual replacement of MS Office with Open Office - replace Word with OO Writer first, and let the staff get used to it at their own rate. Then replaced Excel with OO Calc. In the graphics section, I transitioned the designers slowly from Photoshop to Gimp. In the coding section I transitioned from Visio to Dia, AceHTML to Eclipse, IIS test servers with a LAMP stack (actually you could call it a WAMP stack!). In the publishing section I transitioned from InDesign to Scribus. All this took around 18 months - I worked the changes nice and slow, and let everyone pick up the new software at their own pace.

    All these new applications have one thing in common; they're open source, and all run natively under Linux as well as Windows. Now, 18 months after I began transitioning the company to FOSS applications, we're now in the situation where the only proprietary software remaining on our system is Windows XP itself.

    So, in the next few weeks, I'll be replacing Windows XP on our office machines with Ubuntu Linux. It's already going well on our test machines, and when I set it up I'll put all the software desktop icons in the same place they are under Windows, with the same colour scheme, background images, everything looking as close to Windows as possible. With luck, most of the users won't even notice the difference, since the desktop to them is nothing more than a launch platform for applications. It's the culmination of 18 months of work, and it will finally free our company from the Microsoft yoke.

    And with the sort of costly shenanigans Microsoft are pulling as described in this article, and the fact that you'll need to retrain your staff on the new Windows anyway (and still pay all the license fees), it makes good business sense to just retrain your staff on FOSS applications and lose the fetters.

    So no Vista or Windows 7 will be happening here. Bye-bye Microsoft. We won't miss you.

  11. Fihart

    More Evidence

    Further proof, if it were needed, of corporate MiSconduct at MonopolySoft.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    But surely...

    You can upgrade to Ubuntu no matter when you buy your PC...

  13. A B 3
    Gates Halo

    And in the real world

    Windows goes back to its endless upgrade model, which earned it so much money. hmm I always thought the real money was in support. Heck anyone want to pay me my $100/hour for this comment?

  14. N2


    Just a sweetner to try & jack up sales of Windows 7 but I cannot see why there should be a cut off point.

    In an XP environment with no plans to change in the next 10 months and the limited choice of Vista or Windows 7 I would probably stockpile XP licenses.

    I guess theres always Windows 2000, it just might make sense as it dosnt have the WGA ties the other lot do!

  15. Anonymous Coward


    But if I'm migrating to 7, why would I want to downgrade to XP? Surely I'd be back where I started?

    Surely you just buy new machines/upgrade the ones you want to migrate, and not the ones you don't?


  16. Brian Whittle


    Windows is a walk in the park when compared to some of the business software licence's I have had to deal with

    Windows 7 is going to have the same problems with ancient business bespoke software that vista has. It still won't let you install stuff all over the place like XP did, sure its got the XP vertulisation built in but though it works it is still a kludge at best.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Steve Roper

    IE to Firefox I can see. But Outlook to TB? And MSO to OO? Within 18 months? I don't think this is achievable even with a fleet of IT trainers holding users' hands.

    Even so, I would be willing to suspend disbelief and salute your OSS passion. Perhaps your environment doesn't use any of Outlook's productivity features. Maybe your employees are happy with the compatibility problems as soon as you start sending documents in and out between MSO and OO. But when you say you've got designers ditching Photoshop in favour of GIMP, that's when the tale starts to reek of fantasy.

    Don't get me wrong; I like GIMP. I use it at work and at home, it's a really good product. For the price. But Photoshop offers a lot more, and I've never met a designer who's willing to use something else when they've been used to it. Not to mention the fact that any design department is going to face serious problems sending work to printers/clients/anyone external if they're using GIMP.

    So I can only assume your story is a dream of how business software could be in a perfect world. Which is nice. Sadly though in the real world that would be a nightmare of support and unhappy users.

    PS: The story would've been better with more Paris.

  18. A. Lewis

    OEM licensing?

    I'm a little confused by the tone of this article. Surely this only applies to OEM licenses? How many large organisations use OEM licenses though?

    Maybe I don't know any large enough - but all the organisations I know have volume licenses. OEM licenses are for small organisations with little or no real infrastructure, I always thought.

  19. James Hughes 1

    @ Steve Roper

    Nice one. Good luck with the move the Linux. More people should take the long view..

  20. English Bob

    Or is Garter keeping us in suspense?

    I see what you did there. :-)

  21. Brett Weaver


    Gartner says:

    I will give a decent donation to a charity if people can point to a real prediction Gartner has made that they have not been paid for.

  22. George 24


    Ahh the dream. Open Office integration supported by software vendors, Firefox running all the activeX required, GIMP offering all the features of Photoshop, Ubuntu recognizing all new hardware peripherals (manufacturers actually supporting Ubuntu), MySQL supported by software vendors.

    I am sorry to say, but we live in a MS world. As per the licensing, upgrade/downgrade, it is no more complicated than autocad.

  23. Tony P

    What's the issue here?

    So you buy a new PC with Windows 7 installed and can't downgrade to XP...

    So what. You run the PC on Windows 7 and if you have any software that only runs under XP then Windows 7 has the XP Virtual mode.

  24. kissingthecarpet

    @Steve Roper

    I hope AC's comment above is wrong, Steve - say it ain't so!

    Otherwise I congratulate you on a job well done - but don't let the naysayers get away with it.

    The more (true) stories like this the better

  25. Toastan Buttar
    Thumb Up

    XP memory requirements.

    "It can even work on older hardware as good as XP provided you have 1GB RAM or more (1GB RAM is true of XP now)."

    XP SP3 runs perfectly fine with only 512 MB RAM. In fact, before SP2 arrived, you could run XP in only 256 MB without it swapping all over the place.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Intresting times for MS

    The number of times I see "reps" from companies, in forums, saying that they have only just moved to XP, seems very high. Has MS reached a saturation point in business customers? I haven't seen many businesses raising the Vista flag, most seem to shy away either due to bad experiences or simply waiting for the next MS release. Hardly any even contemplating W7, ours desktops in our shop moved to XP about 9 months ago, about to lose our W2K support. There has been no mention in my shop of W7 save a few who are playing with the RC just for a laugh, nothing serious though.

    Apart from OEM sales and the usual diehard fanbois, I can't see W7 being any bigger hit on release day than XP or Vista were. This latest confusion, if it gets into the minds of the CTOs and managers with the already tight purse strings, will not help MS sustain the hold Windows has on PCs. Should be an interesting release, this one!

    ( Mines the one with the Snow Leopard beta and legally ripped off Ubuntu Live distro in the pocket! )

  27. Toastan Buttar

    Re: @Steve Roper

    To be fair, he did say Outlook Express and not the full Outlook package.

  28. A B 3


    I look forward to seeing the Windows 7 logo on the departure screens at the train station. It will give me that special M$ fanboi feeling... Knowing that without BG people would have abandoned computers and gone back playing pinball and listening to Buddy Holly on the AM radio.

  29. JohnG

    Volume Licenses

    Like "A. Lewis" said, organisations of any size will typically be using Volume Licensing. When they replace an old PC with new one, the old one will be junked or sold and the new PC will have the corporate image of XP installed - but the total count of XP installations will remain the same.

    Everyone will continue to ignore new versions of Windows. I don't know any organisations who are using Vista or have any desire to migrate.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows 7 in maybe 5 years

    I'm just in the process of rolling out new machines in our office, our 4 year old machines running Win2K (replaced Win95 machines 4 years ago) are being replaced with brand new machines running XP SP3.

    Our upgrade has nothing to do with what MS want, it's because later this year we are replacing our 13yr old Sage Line 100 DOS system with Sage Line 200 and although it will run on Win2K, Sage won't support Line 200 on anything less than XP.

    My boss works on the basis of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", and even running an old system, we are one of the market leaders in our sector.

    At the current rate we'll be looking at Windows 7 around 2015/2016.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    I've just walked out of a meeting where the licence guys were having a fit about this. Actions so far are to ramp up the "Linux on the desktop" pilot project, freeze all further Windows purchasing and get a hit-list of applications to move off Windows and on to Unix servers, ranked by how easy it would be to move, get an alternative or even rewrite.

    Little steps in the right direction, but the mood was clear - the management have had enough of the cost and the downtime.

  32. The Dorset Rambler

    @Steve Roper

    ......Smug mode ----- ENGAGED....


  33. Bruce Ordway






    I agree MS Windows upgrades have sucked & deserved all the negative attention.

    However, those listed above seem far worse to me & hardly ever get mentioned.

    Please El Reg.... let me read some of your humorous jibes pointed at some other irritants besides MS for a change

    There is not much more to be written about MS that I care to read

  34. Tom 13

    MS needs to rethink their plan.

    They won the battle against the government when Clinton was in office because they said one* true thing in court: the government didn't care about their monopoly power, they just wanted it for themselves, not the consumer. The problem they now face is that if they keep up these kinds of marketing and licensing plans, the people will WANT the government to control the OS because at least they'll have a little say in what happens with it.

    *All the rest of it was smoke, mirrors, and lies, but one true thing can be enough.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Steve Roper

    I hope all you other admin's are reading Steve Roper's 'upgrade' path. It save you money and you most probably will be wondering why you never thought of this long ago. Most if not all users on Ubuntu will thing they have had a machine speed upgrade.

    Paris because I am sure she to, remains open to the source.

  36. Rob 30

    @AC re @ steve roper (09:50)

    what do you mean by "Outlook's productivity features"? i use outlook at work, it sends and receives email mostly successfully which is nice, and there's a calendar bit to it.

    is "Outlook's productivity features" just manager-speak for that, or does outlook do something else?

    -making coffee would be nice

    AC sounds like a manger imo, and a bit of a gimpy one at that if he can't learn a new gui in 18 months.

  37. ratfox

    Dangerous game

    Didn't they try to force companies to change to a new OS a couple of years ago?

    Didn't that failed?

    All right, Win7 is much better than Vista by any account, but you would think

    they would try to make it easier on the companies this time, given how much

    the strategy failed last time...

  38. Bob Gateaux
    Thumb Up

    Nothing to see here

    Why all the fuss is made?

    Who want to turn Windows 7 into XP anyway if they are letting you try Vista instead? Vista goes much faster than the Linux and it has the extra security pop-ups so this would be your best choice.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Steve Roper

    Congratulations - you have just put your company on a path to total disaster.

    Presumably you will just walk away though when it all starts to unravel?

  40. Rob Dobs
    Gates Horns

    @ A B 3

    Is this flame bait? Are you serious? I can't tell if this is sardonic sarcasm or you actually believe this.

    One can only imagine how good a world without BG and his Nazi business tactics would have been. Xerox, Apple and IBM all had windowed OS before Windows. "windows" on a computer were popular at the time, That's why the weasels trademarked "windows". Never mind that they got the idea from an existing product, and it was an existing term in use.

    Image if FOX news came along and patented the word TV. Has anyone done this yet? probably not, but it's in common use so the Trademark office shouldn't allow FOX to do that now. FOX TV would then want everyone else to stop using the word TV. (Other channels and TV guide would not like that much.) Because "windows" was popular, but only in the small geek world at the time, MS patents it, and now Apple Xerox and IBM all have to stop calling their new fancy OS's "windowed" operating systems. (Was there a court case no, but doesn't mean these companies weren't scarred off from using the word anyways)

    I wont even go into the depths of ways that MS breaks standards, and purposely thwarts the interoperability meant to be inherent in PC's. The have F&*cked up standards for C programming language, HTML standards (i.e. only my Arse!) and just about anything else they touch. (Hey Microsoft you don't understand what a "Domain" is). They purposely pushed their Direct3d API over at the time better open standards since it would give them control over the game development market, and lock gamers to their platform.

    Then there is the aggressive no-compete monopolistic tactics. MS and Intel both have gotten in trouble in NUMEROUS countries, NUMEROUS times for paying companies not use the competition, or forcing them not to by denying them inventory if they sell competitor products. That is nasty business ethics, and should be criminal. (It is in the US! BTW)

    MS has been an excellent business at recognizing other people's success, and either stealing it (disk duplicator, tabbed browsing) or buying it outright (Visio, HotMail, Halo). They have been excellent at pushing the legal limit of the law and destroying competitor companies, only to pay out a insignificant fine to the few executives left at the company they ran under. (Netscape, Caldera, etc).

    Bill Gates is a shrewd business man, and if you consider that he hasn't served jail time he is either really good at getting away with crime, or even better at walking that thin gray line of business ethics. He is NOT an inventor, he did NOT create or give anything to the world. Even his old MS-DOS program was sneakily purchased from a buddy, and sold to IBM in a Shelby Cobra style deal that would have landed most people in jail.

    If you are stock holder in MS then I suppose I could understand the comment that you like BG, and what he has done for YOU individually.

    Even his Damned charity makes more money in interest than it pays out. And Gates has used it's relief funds as a carrot, only giving support to countries that abandon their plans to move to Open source, or in exchange for more government purchases of MS licenses.

    Abandon computing!!

    I just couldn't let a comment that ridiculously stupid lie.

    He has easily set us back 10-20 years with all the Sh*T he has introduced to the marketplace. Let's not get started on the security costs and issues MS boxes have brought to the world.

    For anyone who is not a MS employee or stock holder, this is one of the suckiest companies that every sucked. And boy do they suck! Pinball....Jesus people can be dumb!

    BTW I have never seen a Windows "Logo" in airport or ATM, only Blue Screen of Death error screens. If this is what you meant and you were really joking... apologies... looked like you were serious. But hey, it is good that people not forget why so many of us really hate that guy.

  41. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: Ahh the dream...

    "Open Office integration supported by software vendors, Firefox running all the activeX required, GIMP offering all the features of Photoshop, Ubuntu recognizing all new hardware peripherals (manufacturers actually supporting Ubuntu), MySQL supported by software vendors."

    This is a lazy argument. You are effectively saying that until you can migrate absolutely every user in my company to the new system, you won't migrate anyone. That position is justifiable if the costs of supporting two OSes are greater than the savings of not paying for licences. If I were your manager, I'd be really keen to see hard evidence of that fact, and if you could come up with any then I'd be really keen to see a lowering of the per-seat support costs.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS should be seriously concerned

    I work in a consulting organization and we are currently talking to scores of multi 10's of thousands of user organization's throughout the world and one of the overriding messages is their desire to ditch Windows, Office and the whole MS dependency lock-in forever. We talk about the use of Linux and how it can deliver all of their existing LOB applications with minimal to zero transition costs with all of the security and scalability that any organization would need with no impact to productivity. We also demonstrate this in action proving it can be done now, today...not vapourware ...not slideware....but realware and large organizations are doing this today. I realize Microsoft are too arrogant to consider this a threat, but when your only two products that generate your profits are being dismissed as arcane, 20th century and not fit for purpose, I'd certainly be concerned that my whole reason for being was being undermined by savvy customers, prepared to ditch their previous allegiances for the reality of 2009.

  43. mrlumpy

    @ Steve Roper and his critics.

    Well done Steve! The average office worker can be just as productive on open source products and the cost savings in licenses can be redirected to either assist with the migration or training. Modern database packages should have a webfront end and can be accessed on linux, OSX, smart phones and windows.

    I have worked with a lot of bean counters who can only see savings in making staff redundant yet fail to see the savings that can be made in free software.

    If more It departments could enlighten the bean counters as to the benefits we could stop Microsoft and others from taking money out of our pockets.

  44. Levente Szileszky
    Thumb Down

    Garner et all is full of it...

    ...and anyone works in this field knows it very well.

    these so-called "IT analysts" are sometimes almost as clueless as financial ones - and that's something.

    All these companies are nothing more than paid mouthpieces/rent-an-analyst whores, usually zero or little clue for actually forecasting anything beyond the most obvious.

  45. Levente Szileszky

    @Bob Gateux RE: Nothing to see here

    "Who want to turn Windows 7 into XP anyway if they are letting you try Vista instead? Vista goes much faster than the Linux and it has the extra security pop-ups so this would be your best choice."

    Truly priceless - the most hilariously clueless comment of this entire topic, I believe.

  46. Steve Roper

    @AC @Steve Roper 9:50

    First of all, as I said I work for a small company. We have 2 graphics designers, 2 programmers, an accountant, a secretary, a writer, and 2 managers (including myself) - so 9 permanent staff all up; we hire temps during times of high workload and some of the staff are temps we decided to keep on.

    I can understand your point of view about the difficulties of transitioning a large staff base in such a dramatic manner, but managing a large number of people is a totally different game. I used to be in that position, but I got out of it because I got sick of the office politics, backstabbing and political correctness. I'd far rather work in a small-office environment where everyone knows everyone else and managing such a small group is much easier, if not as profitable. In this situation, the transition to FOSS was simpler than you might expect. Yes, I did encounter a lot of resistance from some of the staff (the designers not least!) and I had to do a fair bit of pushing and cajoling to make it happen. I never said the transition was easy.

    Oh and to the other AC who reckons I'm running my company into the ground; you're wrong. Yes, turnover is down from last year but given the current economic conditions that's not surprising. And it looks like our figures for Q2 are going to be rather better than the figures for Q1, so we seem to be picking up again.

    Finally, I would urge any manager dealing with a large company to think very carefully before following my example. It worked for me because I work in a small office with 8 other people. Transitioning a large company would be much more difficult, and even I would think twice before doing what I did here, in my old company. Retraining a large number of staff to implement such wholesale changes could well be more costly than a Windows upgrade. But if you are running a small business, with close staff relationships, it's definitely worth the effort to change.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    @Steve Roper - Good Call

    Yes, going from WinXP to CentOS on a box at work required working the backchannel as GNU/Linux is the Bast**** Stepchild of IT here to get a workstation on the old trashheap headed hardware. Despite that it older generation hardware it's still faster and snappier. More stable I may add.

    It's says something about a product when you push, much less charge more for a DOWNgrade.....seems rather fishy. Going to GNU/Linux, NetBSD or other FOSS is the only real UPgrade there is.

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