Tick, tick, tick, tick. That sound you hear is the clock winding down on the life of the Windows XP operating system. As of today, you have less than two years left until Microsoft will no longer support the OS. Two years may sound like a long time, but if you haven’t even begun to consider migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7, the pressure is on.
Your Windows XP systems will continue to work as they have for the past decade. But as of April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer support the operating system, or provide patches or security updates for it. So, from that point forward the OS will become increasingly unstable and insecure. Essentially, you’ll be on your own.
With time winding down on Windows XP and Office 2003, software and hardware vendors may already be jumping ship. As time goes on, more and more new products will omit support for Windows XP or Office 2003, and third-party vendors will be less likely to support or update older products designed for these legacy platforms.
Office 2003 is on its deathbed as well. For larger companies, the process of testing and deploying a new desktop operating system to hundreds or thousands of users requires meticulous work that takes months, or even years.
On a site dedicated to the end of support for Windows XP and Office 2003, Microsoft states, "Based on historical customer deployment data, the average enterprise deployment can take 18 to 32 months from business case through full deployment." If that range of deployment times is accurate, organizations that fall into the 24-to-32-month interval for full deployment are already behind the eight-ball.
Windows 7 and Office 2010 both offer various improvements and features that make them more secure by design, and enable users to work more efficiently and productively. Even Windows 7 and Office 2010 will be soon be replaced by Windows 8 and "Office 15" as the new flagship software from Microsoft.
So there’s no time like the present to start looking at your options and planning your migration from Windows XP and/or Office 2003. Should you move to Windows 7, or hold off a bit longer and then jump straight to Windows 8?
Microsoft offers numerous tools and services that may make the transition easier. Windows Intune provides an array of features for managing and maintaining Windows PCs from the cloud, and it includes upgrade rights to the latest version of Windows. Subscribing to Windows Intune could be a simple way to move from Windows XP to Windows 7 to Windows 8 while getting some additional capabilities at the same time.
IT admins should also consider the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) and Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). MDT is designed to streamline and automate Windows deployments, and MDOP has tools to address application compatibility issues and ensure a smooth transition away from Windows XP.
The clock is ticking. Start figuring out how to migrate off of Windows XP now.