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

Beware the Internet Explorer 6.0 headache for Windows 7 upgrade

Internet Explorer 6.0 is likely to cause major headaches, because there is no support for it in Windows 7. IE 6.0 compatibility was killed off in the Microsoft Trustworthy Computing initiative to make Microsoft code more secure. As a result, IE6 is not supported in later versions of the browser. Websites and web applications written for IE6 will not work under IE8 or 9. The IE6-dependency issue is a significant problem for many organisations looking to migrate from XP and is a blocker to many Windows 7 migrations.

Microsoft says it’s one of the biggest challenges for Windows 7 projects. The UK public sector and many large businesses rely a lot on IE6 applications. When most were installed, browser compatibility was not as serious an issue as it is now. Some websites and applications are tied to IE6. Browsium is a software company tackling this aspect of Windows XP migrations by providing a browser plug-in for IE8 that provides an environment for running IE6 websites and plug-ins.

 How Windows 7 upgrade affects desktop virtualisation

Desktop virtualisation is no way to lower desktop computing costs. It puts immense strain on the network and storage, but it does offer a strong model for centralised security that fits in well with the consumerisation of IT. VDI is a major undertaking, technically challenging and it requires a cultural shift in how people view personal computing.

The Co-operative Group plans to virtualise up to 2,000 desktops by the end of 2011, reaching 3,500 desktops across its head office and funeral services branches during 2012.

Moving to Windows 7 also gives the IT department the ability to use App-V, the Microsoft virtualisation technology. But not all applications are suitable for virtualisation. Application compatibility tools have a role to play here, again, by helping users to identify potential compatibility issues.

 How Windows 8 release affects Windows XP upgrade

Organisations may consider delaying the migration because Windows 8 is just around the corner.

In Gartner’s paper, Don’t Change Your Windows 7 Plans Because of Windows 8, analysts say Microsoft expects Windows 8 to be released to manufacture in April 2012, a date that would allow general availability by mid-year. In the paper Gartner warns that independent software vendors (ISVs) and enterprises will likely need nine to 18 months to obtain and test supported applications and plan deployments.

According to Gartner, most organisations will not be able to start deploying Windows 8 before the end of 2013. “With support for Windows XP ending in April 2014, we believe it would be dangerous for organisations now running XP to attempt to skip Windows 7 and move directly to Windows 8.”




Five pointers for your Windows XP upgrade at a glance

  1. Software and hardware auditing should be used to determine the state of the desktop in terms of software and hardware configuration. Windows 7 has a minimum specification, in terms of hardware requirements. Generally, businesses are installing 4 to 8GBytes of memory on 64-bit ready PC hardware to make the most of what the OS offers.
  2. Reducing the number of applications, by simplifying the desktop PC environment, should be a priority. Ultimately, IT departments should consider migrating towards a fully -fledged virtual desktop environment, but this may be too big a first step from Windows XP. Tools that monitor application usage can identify candidate applications to remove from the desktop.
  3. Don’t forget Internet Explorer 6.0. Some internal websites and web applications may have been hard-coded to run only in IE6. Such applications can be redeveloped, but it may be more cost-effective to user a browser emulation plug-in, that enables the IE6 environment to run within a modern Microsoft browser.
  4. Automated application compatibility testing enables IT departments to test which desktop applications are good to go and which are incompatible with Windows 7.
  5. Some application testing tools can fix many common application compatibility problems automatically, leaving just a few applications that need to be manually re-engineered.



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