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IT shops put off Windows XP migration to Windows 7, Windows 8

Enterprise IT needs to begin Windows XP migrations to Windows 7 because the product's lifecycle ends in 2014.

Windows XP still has a significant portion of the Windows market share, and customers are in no rush to move off of the platform, despite the end of its extended support next year.

Plenty of people know the challenges of conducting a Windows XP migration, and Microsoft's biggest fear is that customers haven't reviewed the "gotchas" that will hinder their migration plans, said Bob Lincavicks, a solution specialist at Microsoft. Customers need to identify the applications that will require the most work, he said.

At a recent Boston-based Microsoft Technology Roadmap event, the software maker said IT decision makers need to establish strategic plans and think about moving apps to the new operating system.

Indeed, once Microsoft stops supporting Windows XP and Office 2003 on April 8, 2014, problems could crop up for end users. For instance, bug fixes or security patches will no longer be available for Windows XP, which could make Windows XP desktops and laptops vulnerable to security threats.

However, not all customers are too concerned just yet.

"The operating system is not a big deal," said Alex Wilson, IT operations manager at Courier Corp., a book publishing service company in Chelmsford, Mass. The important issues are the users' applications, he noted.

Courier still uses Windows XP and Windows 7 and is testing Windows 8. Wilson said he is not worried about updating his environment from Windows XP to the latest OS. Instead, he is concerned more about whether Microsoft will provide a level of extended support and patches once it ends the XP lifecycle.

"Making a big change like swapping out 600 desktops is huge." For now, Wilson said, he cannot make the business case for doing so.

Change is disruptive, so IT must judge when a Windows migration will add significant value, he said. Wilson added that he is interested in placing investments for using the cloud and Office 365 to allow his end users to access their applications and data anytime, anywhere.

"We're telling our XP customers to go to Windows 7 or Windows 8 when they are ready," said John Fishell, vice president of product management at Apriso, a software developer serving the manufacturing industry in Long Beach, Calif. It will be another year before its manufacturing customers take on Windows 8, he said.

As of February 2013, NetMarketShare placed Windows XP's share of the desktop market at nearly 39% and Windows 7's share at 44.6%. Windows 8 received 2.7% market share, while Windows Vista garnered 5.2%. The remaining OS market share consisted of different versions of the Mac OS, Linux, Windows 8 Touch and RT Touch, and older versions of Windows.

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