The Day Is Coming, Are You Ready?

This is the first in a 2 part series.  With Windows XP coming to end of support, it is important for organizations to understand the effort to make the move to another platform.  I will discuss some history of Windows XP and then explain what is involved in a migration.  

The date that currently lives in IT infamy is April 8, 2014.  If you ask anyone with responsibility for enterprise desktops, the date will inevitably make them shudder.  Why, well if you have been sleeping in the Catskills for the last 20 years, you might not know, but Windows XP and Office 2003 support comes to an end on that day.  You might wonder, what’s the big deal?  Well the big deal is that Microsoft will stop providing security updates for Windows XP and Office 2003 at that time.  That’s pretty significant since every software provider in the world is having to patch their software for security updates fairly regularly at this point in time.  Not having regular updates leaves your organization vulnerable to significant risk.

Windows XP, it’s time to let go.

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Let’s take a moment to reflect on Windows XP.  Windows XP launched in NY in the fall of 2001.  That’s 12 years ago.  It was a very good platform for its time.  Think about it, Windows XP:

 

 

  • It signaled the end of the 16-bit infrastructure that was Windows 95/98/ME.  It was the new codebase that introduced a single platform, but different revisions for Home and Business.
  • Introduced a real platform for tablet computing that was ahead of its time. Was it perfect? No, but you know what, I could use a stylus with a real point and could write and erase my own handwriting using something that actually FELT like a pen.
  • Windows File protection began protecting core system files to try and eliminate common crash scenarios.
  • USMT was introduced.  The User State Migration Tool (USMT) is a command line, scriptable tool that provides a customizable user profile migration experience.
  • Automatic Updates were introduced to the Windows configuration.

And much more, but the bottom line is IT JUST WORKED.  A little reality here, the OS is still used by as many as 31.22% of desktops globally as you can see from this snapshot taken from netmarketshare.com on 12/6/2013.  Depending on where in the world you go, the marketshare may be even higher. For example, it was reported by Neowin.net on 12/4/2013, that in China, more than 50% of PCs are still running Windows XP.  The reality though is that it is simply impractical for Microsoft to continue to provide patches and support for a 12 YEAR OLD OPERATING SYSTEM.

What do you mean it’s unreasonable?

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So we’ve reached critical mass now and folks have realized that they are 4 months away from losing support.  The headlines are coming out with speculation on whether Microsoft will extend support for Windows XP.  They won’t and they shouldn’t.  Looking at it from Microsoft’s standpoint, it costs them a crazy amount of money to continue to support Windows XP today.  That being said, customers who simply cannot migrate in time have the option of getting a custom support agreement from Microsoft for continued support for Windows XP. This can cost as much as $200 per device for the first year and in subsequent years, well, let’s just pretend there wouldn’t need to be subsequent years, ok?

Look at this rationally for a minute, the current version of Windows is 8.1. That means:

  • Windows 7 is N-1
  • Windows Vista is N-2
  • Windows XP is N-3

Assuming we don’t count that Windows 8 is in there.  Otherwise, we are talking about XP being N-4.  You can barely buy hardware today that has drivers for Windows XP at this point.  It’s impractical and a complete waste of developer time.  It needs to go.  Nevertheless, whether you agree with me or not, reality, it’s going away.  That brings me to the point of the article I’m writing today.

NOW WHAT?

I (and my colleagues) continue to travel to visit with customers who have up until recently not really put a lot of time into considering what the impact of migrating from Windows XP would mean.  Let me take a second to just mention that the overwhelming majority of those customers are looking at Windows 7 as the next step.  Considering the same market share website shows Windows 7 having 46% of the overall PC operating system market share, apparently, my customers aren’t alone.  It’s almost like these folks all forgot how painful it was to move to Windows 2000 back in 1999.  This article today is going to identify everything that needs to be considered as part of the migration from Windows XP to whatever.  As part of that, I will interject a lot of experience that we have in EMC Global Services in this area and what it has meant to our customers.  Hopefully, you can walk away with a clear understanding of what this project requires and if you haven’t already started, understand what is in front of you for the next 4 months.

In Part 2 of this discussion, I will go through the specific actions that will be required to ensure a successful and TIMELY migration off of Windows XP.  What you will need to understand is that planning is the key and I will discuss this further in part 2.

Be Well

Sam

 

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