Microsoft will end all support of Windows XP on April 8, 2014. This means that Microsoft will not issue any more service packs, hot fixes or roll ups, or provide conventional support for Windows XP. The impacts of this “End of Life” are monumental.
According to Computerworld, as of April 2013, 42% of worldwide Windows systems were still running Windows XP. Another 49% were running Windows 7, leaving the remaining 9% split between Windows Vista and Windows 8.
But what does this end of life mean to that 42% of Windows Systems out there? Should those remaining Windows XP systems be transitioned to new windows desktops? Or can they be left to run without support?
Let’s look at two compelling factors: the risks and costs of remaining on Windows XP.
Because Microsoft will not support Windows XP after April 8, new viruses, malware and network vulnerabilities will not be remedied by service packs, etc. According to NIST.gov, between January 2013 and March 2013 Microsoft released 34 high-severity updates to Windows XP. Most were for network-exploitable threats that could still be exploited after anti-virus is in place.
The concern for organizations that choose not to transition from Windows XP lies with vulnerabilities that are exploited after the deadline. It is not unreasonable to assume there are hackers waiting with their viruses, malware and Trojan Horses for April 9 and beyond.
The end of support, plus increased threat and exposed vulnerabilities, add up to a soft target for enterprises with unprotected installations of Windows XP.
Many organizations may look at a transition from Windows XP as a daunting task. These same organizations may opt to continue running Windows XP through 2014. To do this they will add budget for FY2014 to purchase extended support contracts from Microsoft.
While every customer is unique and gets somewhat different “deals” from Microsoft, we can quote two current sources.
In Computerworld, a customer who asked to remain anonymous was given a quote by their Microsoft representative for a $1 million per 5,000 device support contract. That breaks down to $200 per desktop for one year of extended support. Another global financial services company recently told RES Software they were quoted $8mMillion for 25,000 devices, or $320 per device for year one.
While we cannot predict the future, we can look at the history of these support contracts from Microsoft.
When Windows 2000 was retired Microsoft offered similar extended support contracts to its customers. After the first year of extended support of Windows 2000, the cost doubled for year 2 – and increased even more for year 3.
This is like carrying a large balance on a high interest credit card instead of paying it off for a fraction of the cost.
It is important to transition from XP to either Windows Vista or higher. Our preferences are for Windows 7 Professional. You may be able to upgrade your currengt desktops from XP to Windows 7, but often the hardware is not up to the job at hand even if you were to add extra RAM to the system.
Our advice is to upgrade the workstation hardware by copying all user data from the workstations to a network location and then installing a new system and migrate all applications, data and settings/preferences to the new system.
Problems may arise in application compatibility with Windows 7 from windows XP, especially if you have transitioned from an XP 32 bit Operating system to a Windows 7 64 Bit OS (to avail yourself of additional RAM and processing speeds).
Having said this, vendors and software houses have had several years to identify these issues and almost all software that you use on the Windows XP system will have an appropraite version or patch for Windows 7. Another option is to run the software in backward compatibility mode which is a feature of Windows 7 by right clicking the appication and selecting the Properties and configuring settings in the Compatibility tab.
By decoupling the user settings, data, applications, printers and more from the underpinning OS and applications, companies can smoothly transition from Windows XP in a fraction of the time and cost, without user disruption. In fact, by using several workspace virtualization solutions, companies can effectively camouflage IT changes from their end users.
In doing so, IT can rollout just about any physical, virtual or server-based computing technology with minimum fuss. In the meantime users are immediately productive and are not impacted by change because their settings stream to whatever desktop they happen to be using at that moment.
And there’s more. Virtualizing the user’s workspace in this manner now makes the transition to Windows 9 down the road a nonevent.
Don’t ever “migrate” again!
Call us to discuss these options and have a solution in place well before April…. times running out!