Windows XP migration tools help IT ward off upgrade hassles

Diana Hwang

Windows XP migration tools will help IT shops move to a newer operating system quickly when the aging software's support ends next month.

Microsoft has become aggressive about making its customers aware that April 8 is the end of its support and updates for Windows XP. This week, Microsoft partnered with Laplink Software to provide a free tool called PCmover Express for Windows XP. It transfers XP data to Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 computers. IT professionals who want to migrate their applications need the Pro version of the tool, which lists for a discounted price of $23.95.

Vendors such as Browsium Inc. and Splashtop continue to support Windows XP users and plan to do so beyond the end-of-life date.

Windows XP migration tools aid browser management

Windows XP migration hurdles include migrating data, applications and user configurations to new PCs, and companies that need access to custom and legacy Web-based applications and data face browser management issues.

"Browser management is an ongoing challenge for IT," said Gary Schare, president of Browsium, based in Redmond, Wash. The company recently updated its Ion Web application remediation and browser management tool, adding Windows 8.1 support.

Ion 3.2 also now supports Windows Server 2012 R2, Internet Explorer 11 and IE 11 running on Windows 7, in addition to providing support for custom registries and files, among other features.

"If you had a lot of Web-based applications, this would be a tool you would definitely want to try out," said David Driggers, supervisor of desktop systems at Alabama Gas Corp., a Microsoft shop in Birmingham, Ala. Alabama Gas used Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager 2012 for its migration to Windows 7 and Office 2010.

More on the Windows XP end of support

Slideshow: Five things to remember with XP support's close

Have a plan before you move from Windows XP to Windows 7

Options for IT as Microsoft support of Windows XP expires

The User State Migration Tool aids moves from Windows XP to 7

Meanwhile, Splashtop's IE Browser-in-a-Box enables businesses to run corporate Web-based apps that use older versions of IE and are dependent upon Microsoft technologies such as ActiveX, Silverlight, and some .Net and Microsoft services packs. PCs, Macs and mobile devices can access the legacy data and Web apps.

"Businesses have a lot of Web apps tied to [older] IE versions," said Mark Lee, co-founder and CEO of Splashtop in San Jose, Calif. "In the Windows XP world, it is IE 6. How do you continue [using] these Web apps? Rewriting them is an option, but the expense is huge."

Indeed, accessing legacy Web-based applications and data that use older browsers is a concern now with the official Windows XP end of support. Even larger vendors such as Dell Software are partnering with companies like Browsium to alleviate the migration risk. Dell Software's ChangeBASE is an automation tool focused on application compatibility testing, remediation, virtualization and packaging.

"With cloud and Web applications and different browsers, people want to secure the data," said Ann Maya, senior product manager. ChangeBase currently supports IE, Safari and Firefox, with support for Chrome "on the near horizon," she added.

Despite the end of Microsoft support next month, Windows XP continues to be a workhorse for many businesses, with a 29.5% operating system market share, according to NetMarketShare. Windows 7 owns 47.3% market share, Windows 8 and 8.1 10.7%, Mac OS X 10.9 3.5% and all others 9%, revealed the online market statistics provider.

View the next item in this Essential Guide: Why was the Windows XP lifespan so long? or view the full guide: Surveying options after the Windows XP end of support

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