Windows XP migration: For some, is time running out (again)?

Windows XP migration: For some, is time running out (again)?

Summary: XP might be out of date but that doesn't mean it isn't still being used by many organisations. But research suggests another big deadline could be missed by some.

TOPICS: Windows, Microsoft, PCs

Windows XP might have been retired back in April, but the venerable operating system is still used in many organisations ahead of a move to a newer version of Windows.

A survey of IT decision makers found that as of the end of June, 60 percent of companies questioned have completed an upgrade away from XP (34 percent moving to Windows 7, 26 percent opting for Windows 8) while 33 percent were still in the process (19 percent heading to Windows 7, 14 percent to Windows 8). Six percent of companies had upgrades planned but were yet to start them. The survey, carried out by IT operations management company 1E, involved 300 IT decision makers in the US and UK working in companies with more than 500 staff.

According to the survey, the average length of time to migrate all PCs to a new operating system across the UK and US came in at five months. The US is apparently quicker at getting the job done, taking only four months compared to six taken in the UK.

Unsurprisingly, larger companies take longer to get the work done: to migrate away from Windows XP takes three months for a organisations with 500 to 1,000 employees, four for firms with 1,00 to 3,000 staff, and seven for companies with more than 3,00 staff.

The research found public sector organisations on average take the longest time — seven months — to move away from Windows XP, compared to five months or less in the private sector. And, according to the survey, fewer public sector organisations have completed a Windows migration than in any other sector: 56 percent compared to 61 percent in financial services and 65 percent in other commercial sectors

Of public sector respondents as of the end of June nearly two thirds (60 percent) had migrated to Windows 7 or 8, a third, (34 percent) had their plan in progress, but six percent still hadn't got moving at all.

1E said this suggests that some public sector organisations could struggle to migrate away from Windows XP before the end of the first year of Microsoft Extended Support in April 2015. 1E noted that any public sector organisation that doesn't move off Windows XP by this point cold be forced to take out another year of extended support, spending more money to support the antique operating system launched back in 2002.

As part of a £5.5m deal, Microsoft is providing security updates to Windows XP, Office 2003 and Exchange 2003 for one year until 8 April 2015 for UK public sector organisations. At the time it was reported that one condition of the deal was that public sector bodies had to have in place a "robust plan" to get off Windows XP before the one-year deal ran out.

According to the latest figures, XP still accounts for 24 percent of all PCs connected to the internet.

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Topics: Windows, Microsoft, PCs

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  • XP and Small Businesses....

    Some have disagreed with me on this in the past but I stand by my opinion that a full upgrade is just too expensive for many small businesses. In many cases its not just a simple case of upgrading to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 but a full Hardware upgrade along with upgrading expensive software that is not compatible with later versions of Windows.

    To those who suggest it is just a case of poor IT upgrade cycle management know nothing of what it is like to run a small business.
    • Hogwash...

      Those who work in IT deal with this all the time. Big, medium and small businesses have the exact same issues. Yes, I don't understand why cost is such an impediment. It's likely the software and hardware running a typical small business costs LESS today and is more capable than when originally purchased with Window XP.

      When customer and/or payment data is stolen or the business grinds to a halt because a hacker group torched all the systems, the cost and effort to stay current will seem insignificant.

      The big mistake made by ALL small business is they try to be their own IT experts. This is no different than anyone who tries to do their own [insert professional trade]. Yes, SOME can do their own [insert professional trade] but MOST cannot and should never try.

      Open the wallet and pay a couple thousand for an expensive and reputable consultant to create a plan. Then open your wallet again and execute it. Rest assured the IT consultant will cost less per hour than the lawyer that's hired when a contract is breeched or customer data is lost because vital IT systems were not maintained -- which at this stage of the game is negligence.
      • Re: pay a couple thousand for an expensive and reputable consultant....

        And that is precisely my point. A couple of thousand as you so put it is a substantial amount of money for a small business.

        To "Hogwash" my comment with a blanket statement is unrealistic.
        • You don't always need professional IT advice. What you do need is to ...

          ... do is decide how many computers you NEED and replace 20% of them every year. Buy them with three-to-five years of warranty to reduce unanticipated cost of repairs. If you do that none of your computers will be too lame to run the latest OS. You do the same with software, starting with your mission-critical software.

          Simple rules. With money set aside each year it will never be too expensive to migrate to a new OS.
          M Wagner
          • Depends...

            If the small business had five machines, just replace all of them. One model, one OS, one package where each can function as a backup for others.

            If the business was on Windows 7, I'd say do 33% each year but at this point, they all need to go.

            This is a business, not a retired consumer on a fixed income.
          • Well, that is the problem, isn't it? Whether to own 5 PCs or 5,000 ...

            ... replacing all of them at once is prohibitively expensive for some.

            No matter how large or small the business, you ought to be replacing computer hardware and software over time. This keeps unanticipated repairs low.

            Bean counters (accountants) in the USA like to amortize capital expenditures over five years. In some industries, three years makes more sense but today you can get by on a five-year life-cycle. Replacing 20% each year means that none of your hardware is over five years old. Since any hardware built since mid-2007 (seven years ago) that has 2GB of RAM will run Windows 7 just fine (and Windows 8 even better), five years is a good round number.
            M Wagner
          • Couldn't agree more...

            Replacing 20% of computers each year is a good way to save money in the long run. There is less cost for having to deal with failed hard drives, motherboards, slow processors, insufficient memory, etc. While 2GB might be enough to 'get by' with Win 7 and 8, that is pushing it. I never buy a computer with the Microsoft 'recommended' amount of memory - that just isn't enough. I recommend a minimum of 8GB RAM for normal home and business use. For those who have large spreadsheets, do memory intensive tasks like video editing, etc, then I say go for 16GB or more. Memory is cheap. As time goes on, Windows will bloat from security patches and demands on resources increase from application updates, antivirus software, etc.
          • 5,000 PCs ...

            A business that owns 5,000 PCs is not a small business with limited funds. If they have that many PCs and they are still running XP, their IT staff has made some disturbing decisions.
          • XP, Win 2K, NT

            Disturbing decisions? Sorry. When you have about 100,000 employees over 40 different departments and nobody can afford to buy a box of pencils, least of all OSes, system software, application software, home-developed applications and contractor-developed systems. Choices are limited. Plus, how many "images" do you think you'd need for all of this, especially if the company insists all users need to be on the same OS? This isn't about huge companies that used to have a 5-years cycle. Now, 10-13 is the norm out there. The economy has not rebounded as much as it needs to.
          • What About the Other Software?

            We found that, in many instances, you can't just upgrade the OS. There are a lot of titles that won't run on new software unless you upgrade them too. And, how about custom software. I saw a job opening the other day for a Win 98 guru. There are just too many facets to this and, where I worked, they used to be on a 5-year cycle. Now they are on a 10-13 year cycle and, they refuse to support multiple OSes so any new machine would have to be downgraded. I heard they were working on getting rid of XP and going with Win 7 a few months ago. They are fire-walling all of their Windows NT and Windows 2000 systems.

            100K employees!
          • It greatly depends on their budget.

            If they can't afford 20% of new hardware each year they still have to figure something else out. If a company only has 20% of XP machines that's much better than using 100% on XP. Companies need to set up their machines so their latest PCs carry their critical data while their old clunky machines is used for printing up stuff or migrating their older software to the new machines. They could also find older hardware that runs on W7 or Linux so they don't need to spend much on upgrading or buying new hardware.

            Some companies do struggle from lack of software/hardware compatibilities not just funds problems but that's when they need to have a software developer team to get that job done or at the very least find some way to link all the old machines in the building disconnected from the internet, or find some other setup so their XP machines remain protected.
          • The Issue With That is Multi-Fold

            First, medium to big business refuse to support multiple systems from at least the OS level and many do not want to support different hardware. At work, we had over 100,000 employees and most had computer access. But there are other issues as well. Unions require you to have training for all of their employees if you swap out software or hardware. When you change an OS, custom software sometimes breaks. We had to throw out VERY expensive software because it won't run on Win 7 and had to buy all new stuff from a different manufacturer. Also, if someone wrote you an application that runs on Windows 2000 only and they did not sell you upgrade rights nor source code nor any other support, how do you start upgrading machines. These day, most companies from small to large can't afford even a 5-year rotation, least of all, start replacing every year.
          • I think it would have to depend how much companies can

            afford vs what they really need. Even if they got one new machine with every new OS, they could slowly upgrade or replace some machines cannibalizing parts from the older machines in newer ones they don't need to spend much.

            It only cost me $99 to get a used Vista machine that runs on W7 now. I got that in 2008 and i've already upgraded the RAM and i ordered a dual core processor to replace the single core that is consistently under a load. The other thing that these companies can do is to get Linux and run XP under virtual software so they can better protect their systems. They still may have to get new hardware but at least they don't need to upgrade every time there's a new Windows OS.

            Some people do feel that just because something is 'outdated' doesn't mean it's useless. XP has been in circulation longer than any other OS in history (other than Linux of course) so it's natural that people are going to continue using XP regardless of whether MS is continuing updates. The economy is in shambles right now and the companies that are still using XP are in trouble. I even happened to notice that my apt office is still on XP. If i still had my 2003 laptop i'd probably still be using XP with it or had already loaded Linux on it. People upgrade if their PC doesn't function the way they want it to or they want a functionality their current one doesn't have.

            But i will agree, that businesses should have one current OS, either they should be on W7 or W8 on at least one or 2 machines, they can certainly afford some new equipment instead of relying on old PCs that could be more than a problem when parts are wearing out.
        • IT consultants enriching themselves

          If you have still got old XP systems that are fit for purpose and still work why throw them out. Just put a security plan in to place. As long as you take reasonable precautions there is no negigence.

          Most office systems generally have no need to access the internet. Put legacy systems on their own network and lock this network down with a good router. Update PCs that need internet access and install the latest anti-virus software.
          • No need for Internet...

            Said the thumb drive sneaker net that spreads malware...

          ANYTHING at this point is absolutely HOGWASH.

          You probably don't even need computers in your office anymore. Contact your software vendor. They likely offer their software in a Citrix/remote desktop solution. Go buy Chromebooks and stop complaining.
          • You don't understand the economics of small business in the slightest

            Where is the money coming from to buy these citrix servers and licenses? What are the users going to use to connect to these boxes? You can use some linux variant, but these distros don't support multiple monitors as well as windows. The question is this: Why spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for no discernible improvement in productivity or functionality?
            Don't eat the yellow snow
      • Hogwash yourself

        this "the boogie man done gonna stealify yer data!" meme is way overblown itself. While you wouldn't want to use XP as an office computer at this point, using it as a dedicated device operating equipment in a disconnected scenario is as low risk as it gets.
        • Why not? We heard all the doomsday scenarios

          about how the bad guys had gobs of zero-day exploits just waiting to unleash the day after support for XP ended. It didn't happen.
          • Yes. I've thought the same thing.

            However, I realized that I don't know whether "it didn't happen". And, I don't know whether it won't happen later. Building a bot-net takes time, and by its nature, it's not detectable to the infected host.

            Also, please recognize that those predictions of doom were specifically intended to avoid the predicted result (they wanted to be wrong). Because many people properly reacted to warnings, the soft target of XP users is much less tempting than it otherwise would have been.