Top tips for CIOs migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 – part 1 of 2

Microsoft ends support for Windows XP in 2014. Realistically, businesses will need to start migration plans in 2012, to leave enough time to test and roll-out desktops. So what steps can an IT department take to simplify the Windows 7 upgrade.

Prepare for XP migration with hardware and software audit

Organisations should try to eliminate Windows XP by the end of 2012 to avoid disruptions, says Gartner. CIOs and IT leaders will be confronted by a host of challenges, as well as some degree of risk, as they work through the preparation and deployment processes. Issues such as software compatibility, licensing agreements and SLAs will need to be addressed.

The place to start is with a hardware and software audit. This allows IT departments to discover what hardware will run Windows 7 and catalogue the desktop applications run in the organisation. Depending on how much flexibility IT gives business users to deploy their own desktop software, IT can find it has hundreds of un-licensed and un-supported applications.

With potentially thousands of applications to check, organisations must starting anticipating the migration from Windows XP to Windows 7. 

Use automated tools to test application compatibility with Windows 7

But be aware that Windows 7 is no ordinary desktop upgrade. In fact, treating it just like a Windows upgrade would be missing the point as it offers the chance for IT to rethink how it does desktop IT. Businesses have to think about their IE6 websites and applications, whether or not to take advantage of 64-bit computing available on Windows 7 and a virtual desktop infrastructure.

Windows XP application compatibility could be a major issue – some XP applications will fail on Windows 7 – but there are various software tools available that will allow organisations to check if applications will install on Windows 7. These are automated tools so developers don’t have to test applications themselves. Such tools can reduce the manual migration process significantly. As usual, expect the 80/20 rule; most applications should pass through with no compatibility issues, leaving fewer that need manual checking.

Post remediation, to fix the compatibility issue, around 98% of applications should then be able to run on a Windows 7 desktop. That leaves 2%, which will need re-engineering.

The move to 64-bit computing will cause 16-bit to become inoperable. This is likely to affect legacy device drivers and older peripheral hardware. On modern PCs, users should update 32-bit device drivers to the latest 64-bit versions.

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