Gartner: CIOs must prepare for Windows 7 end-of-life now

Endpoint managers and CIOs are being urged to get ahead of the curve and plan for Microsoft Windows 7’s end-of-life [EOL] to avoid a repeat of what has taken place in the aftermath of Windows XP's support being withdrawn.

Related: Windows XP end-of-life pushes PC shipments up 5% in Q1 2014

Gartner’s research VP Stephen Kleynhams is urging companies to look at the expected Windows 7 EOL in January 2020 and plan out a road map that means there is little to no reliance on the OS by that date.

“The end of support for Windows 7 will be January, 2020, assuming there are no changes to its current support life cycle. While this feels like it's a long way off, organizations must start planning now, so they can prevent a recurrence of what happened with Windows XP,” Kleynhams explained.

Microsoft extinguished support for Windows XP in April and a glut of companies are still using the OS despite the fact that the firm announced the end date way back in 2007.

Kleynhams is keen to point out that Windows 8 offers an easier path to adoption than the move over from Windows XP to one of the new incarnations mainly due to the fact that updates are being released with greater regularity. Even this being the case there are still a litany of problems that continue to exist when upgrading and firms that have government oversight, complex compliance requirements or application validation find it hardest.

“Many organizations, especially those in industries with government oversight or compliance requirements, require applications to be officially supported by the independent software vendor (ISV) and/or go through validation processes to ensure compatibility. Such organizations may find skipping Windows 8 for most devices makes sense,” he added.

The researcher produced a list of three options that firms need to consider when dealing with the OS platform over the coming decade, and companies should select one of the trio.

Related: Windows XP: There’s life in the old dog yet

Organisations should either load Windows 8 onto new PCs as they arrive to allow it to be phased out over time; skip Windows 8 and plan for a new version if the budget allows; or deploy Windows 8 on all PCs to eliminate Windows 7, though Kleynhams sees little value in doing this.