It's not a Y2K-style crisis, but there's only a four-year window until Microsoft Corp. ends support for Windows XP. The need to migrate from XP to Windows 7 "will create an extra budgetary and resource burden on companies from 2011 to 2012," according to recent report by Gartner Inc.
The research firm estimates that large and midsize organizations worldwide will migrate about 250 million PCs to Windows 7 over the next few years.
Gartner predicted that demand for IT staffers qualified to handle Windows 7 migrations will exceed the supply during that time frame, leading to higher IT labor costs.
Gartner analyst Steve Kleynhans said IT shops should line up Windows 7 contractors early.
"Begin talks with suppliers now about putting in place contracts that can deliver flexible levels of resources at a fixed rate," he advised.
The report said IT shops have three migration options: accelerate the replacement of desktop PCs with Windows 7 machines, upgrade the operating systems on existing machines, or move some workers to hosted virtual desktops.
"Most organizations will need to find extra funds or redirect budgets away from other projects to complete the Windows migration on time," the Gartner report concluded.