This content is part of the Essential Guide: Surveying options after the Windows XP end of support
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Watch Windows application compatibility when moving from Windows XP

Our expert provides Windows application compatibility questions that you should answer when readying for a migration from Windows XP.

What's the top application-compatibility concern with moving from Windows XP?

Moving off of Windows XP might just be the IT challenge of 2014. Should you stay? Should you go? Every vendor, researcher, analyst and consultant has his own opinion.

If you upgrade, you help someone make some money. If you don't upgrade, you still help someone make some money -- perhaps even more money if a data breach occurs.

Only you will know whether or not it's feasible to move away from Windows XP. The thing is -- you and your applications might not be ready.

I can vouch for the fact that many enterprise applications -- namely manufacturing, point of sale and the like -- are not ready for the modern-day operating system. They're either stuck back in the text-based era (yuck!) or they're so tied to the Windows XP OS, registry or hardware requirements that they can't possibly work with the latest software and equipment. Here are the things you need to consider regarding app compatibility before you even think about upgrading to Windows 7 or Windows 8:

  1. What do your vendors say about Windows upgrades? Pay attention not just to what their sales reps say, but instead their official corporate stances on Windows OS support.
  2. Do you feel like your vendors will have your back in the event of incompatibilities and related hiccups once you upgrade? The last thing you need beyond the complexity of an OS upgrade is the reality of breaking business apps you cannot be without.
  3. Are you ready? Have you taken the proper inventory of all of your business applications -- even those that only get used once or twice a year? Like security vulnerabilities, it's often the little things that can come back to bite you when trying to manage application compatibility with a new OS.

In the end, the best piece of advice is to test, test and test again. Testing your applications on your operating systems in your environment -- over a reasonable period of time -- is the only way to truly know whether or not they're going to work with newer versions of Windows.

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