How to upgrade from XP to Windows 7 or 8 with the least cost, hassle, and downtime
[ This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of PCWorld, and not by PCWorld's editorial staff. ]
The end is near – end of support for Windows XP, that is. April 7, 2014 is the last day businesses or individuals can expect any support at all for the operating system that has been the workhorse of many PCs for over twelve years. Loss of XP support can bring big security risks – no more patches when vulnerabilities are uncovered – and lead to productivity losses as users find that IT resources no longer can provide effective assistance to solve technical problems.
So now it is time to pull the trigger and migrate existing PCs from XP to one of the two most recent Windows versions – Windows 7 or Windows 8. Here’s how to do it within budget and with minimum disruption while avoiding the major pitfalls that can occur during migration.
Migration Target: Windows 7 or 8?
Before starting you’ll need to choose Windows 7 or 8 as your new target OS. Key considerations are use cases and longevity. If you’re using Windows on desktop devices, laptops, tablets, and phones, then you should choose Windows 8 for consistency across all of them. Windows 8 also offers support for the latest in touch-screen hardware, including some of the HP Elite series of desktops, notebooks and tablets. If you’re working with non-Windows smartphones and tablets and aren’t interested in touch-screen PCs, then Windows 7 and its longer enterprise track record might be the best choice for you. Keep in mind, though, that the latest OS may have a longer life before the need to migrate comes again.
Application Inventory: Critical for continuity
Next, catalog the programs – both off-the-shelf and homegrown – that you use on a daily or periodic basis. Make sure you have the latest updates from those publishers with assurances that they offer Windows 7/8 support for your critical apps. If you uncover applications that don’t support the latest Windows versions you have two options:
- Find alternative applications that deliver the same functionality, or:
- Create a Windows XP virtual machine on your new Windows 7 or 8 machine to continue to run the legacy application. This way you will still have support for the underlying OS.
Avoid Throwing Good Money after Bad
Next up is the decision whether or not to update hardware. Purchasing new HP PCs and tablets with Windows 8 pre-installed will ease the IT burden if you plan to use new Windows 8 features like touch and app tiles.
Today’s PCs offer dramatically more CPU power, memory, and disk storage than the XP-based systems of just a few years ago. Buyers often find today’s Windows 7/8 PCs accelerate ROI by decreasing the time needed to perform common business tasks, thus freeing up time for users to get more done.
Taking the Leap
Once you’ve lined up the OS and hardware, it’s time to make the move to your new platform. The on-screen guides should guide you through the steps, but here are a few things to remember as you go:
- Make sure you have intact local backups for all essential files. This is critical if you’re upgrading on an existing XP machine since the Windows 7/8 installation will not preserve existing XP apps or files.
- Ensure hardware compatibility by visiting the Windows Compatibility Center or with your own research. You don’t want to get halfway through installation and find out your ten-year-old server can’t handle the upgrade.
- Make a record of all of your licensing/registration info for new and old versions of Windows as well as applications and keep it handy.
- Make the migration during business hours so that you can contact Microsoft and/or your PC manufacturer or IT person for support, if needed. There’s nothing worse than having the migration come to a halt while you wait for a reply to your email, and you don’t want to be stuck overnight or over the weekend with systems in limbo.
- Make sure users are aware of the changes that will come with the new OS. If you’re upgrading to Windows 8, pull together a few resources to guide them on its use. The transition to Windows 7 will be less disruptive for folks used to XP, but there could be minor differences that trip them up. Plus, there are advantages to upgrading your software that can benefit all of your employees, so make sure they’re equipped to use them.
There’s no time like the present - and little time left before Windows XP support is just a memory. Take advantage of this opportunity to bring the latest in PC technology like the HP EliteBook series of Windows 8 notebooks into your enterprise and enhance your employees’ productivity.
For more information on how HP can help with all your migration needs, visit their official XP migration information resource.