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Research Finds Outstanding Issues Could Derail Win 8 Migration

Migration to Windows 8 won't be a sure thing, with a number of issues remaining to be addressed before Microsoft can expect the majority of its users to migrate to the new version of the operating system. A new survey from InformationWeek Analytics, Research: Windows 8, finds that the migration strategy appears to be predicated on people migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 8, when it is clear that a significant number of existing users are still running Windows XP. This demonstrates the sort of problem that Microsoft is facing. The new operating system is scheduled to come out in beta in February and for final shipment in the second half of the year.

According to the survey of 973 business technology professionals, 90% still have Windows XP and 81% have Windows 7. Just over half, 52%, plan to upgrade, while 48% will not. Of those planning to upgrade, 82% will be upgrading from Windows 7 and 54% will be upgrading from Windows XP. Half plan to stay with Windows XP, while 30% plan to stick with Windows XP. And even those who do plan to upgrade, 28%, the largest percentage, have not yet established a timetable for when they will be upgrading. Moreover, 21% said they do not plan to deploy Windows 8 on mobile devices.

Issues cited by the survey respondents included having to redesign applications to support the new Metro tile-based touch user interface, the requirement for touch devices and monitors to take advantage of the new interface, Windows 8 compatibility among different browsers, and the requirement to develop back-end systems that can service a variety of devices.

Barriers to upgrades cited by respondents include other IT projects with higher priorities, compatibility issues, testing requirements, a lack of business drivers or ROI, training requirements, lack of staff, lack of money, and the fact that they're still in the process of migrating to Windows 7.

Another survey, InformationWeek's 2012 forecast, found the prospects are good for Windows 8 Server and not so bright for Win Mobile. At the end of 2011, 63% of respondents said they'll run Windows 8 on at least 50% of their servers. Only 30% of respondents say they'll run the phone/tablet version on that fraction of these devices, which was considered surprisingly high.

Migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 8 is supposed to be seamless, but migrating from Windows XP to Windows 8 will be another issue, since, like the migration to Windows 7, it will require a clean install. "Essentially, you have to save your data, do the install and migrate your data in," says analyst Roger Kay, owner of Endpoint Technologies Associates. Moreover, Windows XP users may find they need more memory or processing power to support Windows 8.

"If a system is more than two or three years old, it might not have the processing power to make Windows 8 work correctly," says Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT.

However, users who migrate from Windows 7 may see improvements, says Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group. While Windows 8 has the same memory requirements as Windows 7, it is less resource-intensive. "The cheapest systems that run Windows 7 or Vista should be as fast or faster with Windows 8," he says. Systems should have at least 2 Gbytes of memory, though Kay suggests that 4 Gbytes would be better.

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