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XP – Out of the Window

Having been to a recent partner briefing at Microsoft’s London office, we noticed a common theme running through all the presentations on the day, each of their slides had the same badge on the front of them:

“1007 days left until the end of support for Windows XP”

The briefing itself was on System Center, a product orientated to managing server infrastructure. So, why were all the Microsoft presenters reminding people about a desktop operating system?

Because it’s important. Vista was not the successful upgrade from Windows XP that Microsoft may have hoped for. But being the responsive company that they are, they listened to the criticisms and addressed them head on with Windows 7.

Unfortunately, despite Windows 7 being a very viable upgrade for people still running Windows XP, there is inertia to leave Windows XP behind. Although the hardware requirements for Windows 7 are not much more than Windows XP, a significant number of corporate desktops are still running XP because they would struggle with Windows 7. Most organisations will have to do a hardware refresh of some kind or another. It might not apply to all PCs but some will need to be upgraded to run Windows 7. IT staff will also need to test their applications and hardware to make sure they are Windows 7 compatible.

Windows XP mode will allow old software to continue to run but this requires additional memory and disk space. Most software now supports Windows 7 but many organisations still own hardware without the right drivers. (For example, that old reliable printer you’ve had in the corner of the office for the last ten years.)

Finally, there is the rollout of Windows 7 itself. If you have five desktops to upgrade, that could be a morning’s work. If you have five hundred desktops across multiple sites that will involve committing a project team and could take several months.

It is important to think about the implications for your organisation and start planning now. Windows XP is due to reach the end of extended support on 14th April 2014. That means you have less than 1000 days to assess, design, test and do your Windows 7 migration.

If you have not considered it already, VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) is an alternative to upgrading your aging hardware and doing the “big bang” roll-out. VDI runs Windows 7 in a virtualised environment and then uses the desktop/laptop/tablet PC as a remote screen, keyboard and mouse. It’s similar to Remote Desktop Services (formally known as Terminal Services), but because each Windows 7 desktop is virtualised, there are tighter controls on shared resources and each user can have a different set of applications installed (e.g. Sage installed for finance, but not for sales).

You can either run the VDI hardware yourself in your office or take a managed service from Lumison where we look after all the hardware, virtualisation and licensing for you. Either way, it is a centralised and more efficient way to deliver Windows 7 to your end-users.

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