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It's not too late for a Windows 7 migration plan

Even with Windows 8 looming on the horizon, stragglers can take advantage of others' experiences for their Windows 7 migration plans.

Many organizations have only recently migrated from Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7, but if you're still one of the stragglers, don't despair. Even with Windows 8's release to manufacturing this month, the best practices for a successful Windows 7 migration haven't changed as much as desktop computing has.

We've gathered some answers to common questions about managing Windows operating system migrations and the growing role of bring your own device (BYOD) policies.

Where should I start with an OS migration?

The same guidelines apply to a Windows 7 migration plan as for any update between editions of Microsoft's desktop operating system. Take inventory of your hardware and applications, and remember that while you should test for interoperability, you may not need to upgrade them. If users or business executives ask about Windows migrations, make sure they understand the business case for doing so.

More about Windows migrations:

Windows 7 migration guide

A guide to Windows 7 migration tools

Choosing the right tool for a Windows 7 migration

Is Windows 7 your last Windows desktop migration?

Despite BYOD and the cloud, it's business as usual for Windows migrations

Windows 7 upgrade, performance monitoring tools and features guide

My organization is just putting together its Windows 7 migration plan. Are there tools to ease the process?

One advantage of jumping on the bandwagon late is that there is a wealth of tools to help automate Windows deployments. Note that migrating to Windows 7 from Windows XP requires different tools than migrating from Vista to Windows 7 to ensure that data and settings stay secure. Also, some of the tools for migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 are free, and it helps to know Windows Runtime.

If my enterprise makes its Windows 7 migration plans now, will I have to worry about Windows 8 right away?

Not necessarily. Just as users and IT shops waited to move from Windows XP, many will wait for service packs and for others to conduct compatibility testing -- not to mention the budget to upgrade to Windows 8. Questions around Microsoft's support for touchscreens and tablets, the user interface formerly code-named "Metro" and the rise of BYOD and the cloud add to the uncertainty that makes some companies hesitate before migrating.

On the other hand, it's possible that your business needs and hardware can support a move to Windows 8. Heavy users of tablets and early adopters of other Microsoft software such as Office 15 will definitely want to pay attention to the new OS.

Let us know if there is some aspect of migrations to Windows 7 or Windows 8 that you'd like us to cover; email

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