Microsoft estimates that 65,000 organisations plan to migrate to the Windows 7 operating system (OS) over the next eighteen months. Patrick Gunn, Vice President Sales, Flexera Software, discusses the best ways of taking the pain out of Windows 7 migration.

Even so, many enterprises delay such software refreshes because OS migrations are complex, challenging and time consuming, not to mention expensive. Hence, the archetypal tussle between short-term economic caution and long-term improved systems performance and business value.

However, OS migration delays can prove to be costly in the long run. If migration projects get delayed for too long, enterprises can end up paying for custom support, under which access to critical security fixes can sometimes amount to thousands of pounds.

Many enterprises are held hostage by software transitions because preparing and deploying applications in a reliable, consistent manner is incredibly difficult; and requirements to ensure a successful migration are many - application discovery, cataloguing, compatibility testing, remediation and conversion, software packaging, application virtualisation and deployment to the cloud.

Enterprises can adopt a project-orientated, proactive approach to a Windows 7 migration by following six best practice steps:

Identify applications and hardware

A good starting point for a Windows 7 migration is to take an inventory of the applications and desktop hardware in use across the enterprise. It’s important to get a complete list of installed software, including versions and editions.

Rationalise applications to cut migration costs

Once the application inventory has been imported and catalogued, assess the list to eliminate duplicate and redundant applications. This will reduce the overall complexity and cost of the migration.

Classify and sort applications by type, so that duplicate versions and multiple vendors within each type can be identified and consolidated. This will result in a rationalised list of applications that actually need to be moved over to Windows 7. Also, enterprises will make significant cost savings for every application that does not need to be migrated (or supported in the future).

Assess compatibility with Windows 7

Automate the process of assessing application compatibility across all the applications. Robust Windows 7 and 64-bit tests can quickly identify the applications that are compatible with Windows 7. These tests will also provide information that can expedite the resolution of applications that are not compatible.

Plan migration projects in line with business objectives

The compatibility assessment work completed will allow enterprises to scope, resource, and plan specific migration projects led by business goals. For example, enterprises can take into account variables such as the cost and time requirements of in-house software packaging versus using external service providers. They can also scope and budget for any desktop hardware upgrades that might be required.

Fix compatibility issues and package applications

Automate the complex process of fixing compatibility issues and converting applications to the required deployment format. Another approach taken by some enterprises is to use application virtualisation in their Windows 7 migration projects to avoid application-OS compatibility problems. Organisations can achieve an optimised desktop by virtualising those applications that are best suited for this type of deployment.

Also, automate the application packaging process. This will ensure that application portfolios migrate smoothly to Windows 7. In fact, having a sophisticated software packaging technology in place prior to the Windows 7 migration will significantly speed up the application repackaging and testing processes. This will also help contain help-desk costs during and post migration.

Automate deployment of packaged applications

Automate and accelerate the process of preparing and passing packaged applications to deployment technologies. For example, enterprises can speed up pre-deployment user acceptance testing for both packaged applications and patches.

They can run MSI validation and quality assurance tests on MSIs and automatically fix errors. In addition, an automated process can automatically verify before deployment, that all installation elements including shortcuts, file associations and type libraries, are configured correctly and that MSIs will uninstall without incident.


By following these best practices for Windows 7 migration, enterprises can significantly reduce the cost and complexity of current migrations whilst increasing the company’s preparedness for subsequent migrations. Today, tools are available that automate the entire application compatibility, software repackaging and OS/software deployment process.