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Guest Blog: Windows XP Upgrade Time!

By David Nudelman

Email: david.nudelman@ocsl.co.uk

From the old, we travel to the new - leaving Windows XP behind

Greetings! I am David Nudelman, Consultant at OCSL (Microsoft UK Partner of the Year 2012) and Microsoft MVP on the Windows Expert-IT Pro category.

I had the pleasure to present two sessions at TechEd Europe 2012 last week in Amsterdam. One of the sessions was titled: Windows XP Upgrade Time! The format of the session was an open discussion where I introduced topics related to the experience of leaving Windows XP behind and moving to a modern OS.


I opened the presentation by exposing the fact that Windows XP will expire soon and companies will have no option but to migrate away from it. I also demonstrated the Windows XP End of Support Gadget, a countdown gadget to keep you informed how many days are left until XP has to be completely retired. After that, I opened the discussion to the floor with the question: what are the main challenges you encounter when moving away from Windows XP?

The first topic discussed was the impact on the end users. Changing the way people work on a day to day basis may cause some initial disruption, but this disruption is very short term and soon the new OS will allow people to be more productive. One of the attendees also suggested that companies should use users that are excited with the new OS and have it at home to create some buzz inside the company and make other users desire the change. The last point discussed regarding users was that most of the users already have a modern OS at home. In the past the computer at work was the good one and the one at home was OK, now the one at home is fast and user friendly and the one at work is old and slow.

The next topic was applications with special focus on compatibility. This is a recurring topic on every OS desktop migration discussion. In short, the points discussed were:

  • Inventory: get to know your applications very well. How many instances of each, licencing and how people use the applications. Having an application installed on every machine doesn't mean everyone uses it.
  • Rationalize: now that you know all your applications, it is time to consolidate versions. The classic Adobe Reader scenario where companies have every single version of the software across different computers - try to consolidate to the latest version. Retire applications that are not needed, consolidate applications that achieve the same function into one (WinZip, WinRAR, 7-Zip).
  • Application compatibility: this is the area where companies spend the most time during a desktop migration. Check out the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) – it will help you identify if applications are ready for your target OS and may provide some fixes – Shims – for your applications. For more details, visit Chris Jackson’s blog. (The App Compat Guy). We also discussed third party application compatibility tools such as App-DNA by Citrix.

The third topic was user profiles. Using roaming profiles might impose a challenge as Microsoft change the way the handle profiles after Windows XP. The solution is to convert them to local profiles and use tools such as the User State Migration Tool (USMT) to migrate the profiles from XP to the new OS.

The last topic was around concerns about Windows 8. Will it be ready for the enterprise? Will drivers be available? Will users accept the new interface? Most of the answers were favourable as Microsoft is clearly investing in working with OEMs.

In a nutshell, the main concerns when moving away from Windows XP are around the time that is left, end user impact, application compatibility, use profiles and expectations regarding the launch of Windows 8. Recommendations: improve your application portfolio, remove legacy applications and consolidate; refuse to continue with temporary solutions; implement Best Practices.

Have a question for David? Share your thoughts below.



Chris Jackson – The App Compat Guy - blogs.msdn.com/b/cjacks/
Windows XP EOS Gadget - microsoft.com/en-gb/download/details.aspx?id=11662
Springboard Series – microsoft.com/springboard