Microsoft users 'should wait for Threshold release'.
Most Microsoft customers looking to life after Windows 7 will skip Windows 8 entirely and wait for the next operating system from Redmond, according to Gartner.
The analyst house published three recommendations for migrating away from Windows 7, with support for the OS expiring in 2020, but said most organisations would opt to miss out on 8 and wait for a subsequent release.
Research VP Stephen Kleynhans wrote in a blog post: "We believe most organizations will do this. With this strategy, many will not eliminate Windows 7 before support ends unless they budget extra funding to do so."
The other options included shifting to Windows 8 now, which Kleynhans dismissed as holding "little value", and deploying Windows 8 on all new PCs, which he deemed suitable for many firms.
Mainstream support for Win7 ends in January 2015, but Gartner believes most customers will purchase extended support that will not see the OS go the way of XP until January 2020, with no more security patches issued after that.
However, Windows 7 accounted for 51.22% of all web-connected desktops in July, according to figures from Net Marketshare.
Meanwhile, Windows 8 and 8.1 usage fell for the second month in a row, from 12.64% of the total in May to 12.54% in June to 12.48% in July.
XP was still being run on nearly a quarter of all web-connected desktops last month, found the figures.
Companies already using Windows 8 "should not shy away from deploying new devices with the OS," said Kleynhans, but he warned that firms with heavy compliance regulations will find it harder to deploy new devices running Win8.
"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," the analyst wrote.
"Such organizations may find skipping Windows 8 for most devices makes sense."
Windows 9, codenamed Threshold, is penciled in for a spring 2015 release, and Gartner has recommended users begin planning migration away from Windows 7 now, to avoid the migration troubles they experienced shifting from XP back in April.
Microsoft is sure that users will make the jump to Windows 8 and 8.1 as it kills off 7, with a spokesman previously telling CBR that "it builds on Windows 7 fundamentals like increased speed, reliability and security, while creating a modern platform designed for a new generation of hardware experiences - from tablets and innovative touch devices to traditional desktops and laptops."