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Windows XP Migration: Making the Move to Windows 7, 8.1 or 10? Or am I asking the wrong question?

Damian Dwyer | July 14, 2015
The enterprise is changing. Web-based applications and mobile apps are becoming more prevalent and the way applications are procured and delivered is becoming more standards-based to meet today's multi-platform requirements. While this bodes well for the future, there will always be a requirement to access legacy applications, which adds untold complex processes for any organisation as it embarks upon its next Windows OS migration.

The enterprise is changing. Web-based applications and mobile apps are becoming more prevalent and the way applications are procured and delivered is becoming more standards-based to meet today's multi-platform requirements. While this bodes well for the future, there will always be a requirement to access legacy applications, which adds untold complex processes for any organisation as it embarks upon its next Windows OS migration.

More than a year after Microsoft shipped its final update for Windows XP and just ahead of Microsoft's removal of extended support for anti-malware on 14th July 2015, a considerable number of large organisations still haven't made the move from this legacy OS. Although the number of Windows 8/8.1 PCs accessing the internet exceeded the number running Windows XP for the first time during May 2015 (16.4 percent and 14.6 percent respectively) according to Netmarketshare, Windows XP is still alive and kicking.

Many cite the headache of migrating business-critical proprietary applications, but time is running out fast: end-of-life custom support agreements can cost millions and XP organisations are far more vulnerable to malware and other malicious attacks.The latest pronouncements from Microsoft about Windows present organisations still on XP with a migration conundrum: move to Windows 7, 8.1 or 10?

There's no right or wrong answer. In fact, I'd argue that it isn't even the right question. A better question is this: what's the best way to manage application migration from one Microsoft OS to another?

As I noted in my previous article, managing a migration from XP to another Windows OS is not insignificant. But the operating system switch is the (relatively) easy part. The complexity of the application stacks today, compared to the last major migration activity around 10 years ago, makes managing the migration of thousands of applications time-consuming and expensive. Without the right approach, employee productivity can be seriously impacted and migration costs can spiral out of control.

Which OS?

But let's deal with the OS question first.

From a longevity perspective, Windows 10 is the clear leader. However for organisations in highly regulated industries such as financial services, moving to Windows 10 before Q3 2015 would be regarded as a leap of faith.

Microsoft's updated Windows 8.1 might be a good option for organisations requiring mobile/touchscreen capabilities for some employees - for example, engineers out in the field. However, from an IT perspective it is difficult to adjust the way that the interface works to ensure the OS always launches and remains in classic mode. Furthermore, Gartner has recently come out in favour of organisations skipping Windows 8.1 altogether: in its view, Windows 10 is superior in key areas for enterprises (security, management and user experience). Last but not least, a move to Windows 8.1 requires considerable investment in staff training.

 

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