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Dreading a migration? New Windows XP tools may ease the pain

Enterprise tools can provide IT admins with views of their software licenses and ease the migration pain from Windows XP to Windows 7 or Windows 8.

New Windows XP tools will ease the pain for IT professionals seeking to upgrade their aging enterprise environments to Windows 7 or Windows 8.

The new tools from 1E Inc. and Adaptiva can save IT administrators time when migrating end users and can provide them with a detailed overview of their environment so they can make informed decisions on software licenses.

Many organizations continue to procrastinate on Windows XP upgrades because of the time, effort and cost. Easing the suffering with new tools could help the reported 31% of companies that still run Windows XP.

In the first quarter of next year, 1E plans to deliver a server version of AppClarity and release Workspace, a new tool that enables IT to install a corporate image on either a Macintosh or Windows computer while the end user continues to work.

The ability for business users to remain productive while the corporate image installs contrasts with traditional upgrade methods. End users often must turn in their PCs to IT to install an image or allow the process to be done remotely. As a result, end users may lose precious productivity time.

Workspace will allow an end user to log into the company's portal, enter his credentials and install the corporate image on his machine based on his company role, said David Rode, senior vice president of worldwide sales at New York-based 1E.

The forthcoming software will also support a company's security policies so if an employee leaves, IT can remotely wipe sensitive data off the end user's device. This feature is especially useful in situations where employees rely on their own PCs for both business and personal use.

Windows XP tools aid licensing

AppClarity is a software licensing tool that gives IT managers the ability to view an end user's application usage.

Windows market share

Net Market Share reported 31% of desktops still run Windows XP in its latest October 2013 results. Windows 7 comes in at 46.4%; Windows 8 at 7.5%; and Windows 8.1 with 1.7%, while the remaining desktop operating system market share is made up of Macintosh OS X, Linux, Vista and others.

"On average, companies have [about] $400 of unused applications on their machines," Rode said. AppClarity reviews each desktop and its applications. If an app is not in use, companies can set up business rules so the software fully uninstalls it automatically.

For enterprises migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 or 8, the ability to keep track of software licenses becomes especially important. IT admins need to determine which custom or legacy apps need to be updated.

"How much money are companies going to [spend to] continue support [for] legacy apps?" Rode said.

A new server version of AppClarity is for IT pros who need to track server-based software licenses such as Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle database licensing. The software will arm enterprises with a proactive negotiation tool by allowing them to let vendors know they are "under-licensed" before the vendors issue  costly software audits.

Pricing for the server version of AppClarity and Workspace will be available next quarter.

New Windows XP-to-Windows 7 tool speeds migration

Meanwhile, Bellevue, Wash.-based Adaptiva this week updated its OneSite migration tool to help Windows XP shops easily upgrade to Windows 7. OneSite is tightly integrated with Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager.

The product offers a variety of features, including a content pre-staging capability, peer-to-peer PXE (pre-boot execution environment) and virtual state migration point.

Once a customer has the back-end piece in place, OneSite allows IT managers to deploy Windows 7. A virtual migration from Windows XP to Windows 7 takes place by removing the applications and data from a Windows XP machine, storing the data in unallocated clusters within an organization's environment, and then reinstating the data, according to Todd Floyd, vice president of worldwide sales and operations manager at Adaptiva.

One IT professional said OneSite has saved him hours of work by remotely reimaging Windows XP machines to Windows 7. He said he could make associated software upgrades and changes at remote locations without requiring a technician or degrading network bandwidth.

"We are now doing remote imaging of sales and support operations," said Rich Covert, a senior systems administrator at a large North American company with more than 200 distributed sites. "It has saved me time and [allowed me to] get rid of all of those image kits [and] speed up customer response in terms of getting machines up and running."

Covert's company used to have to send techs to each site or rely on local non-IT people at the location to image each computer using a USB drive.

In addition, Covert said he likes the ability to keep end-user data secure because of the virtual storage-area network and user-migration storage features of OneSite.

"The data is not even going out of your own subnet," he said. "We don't need to take it to a data center. That takes more time."

Pricing for OneSite is $15 per seat on a perpetual basis; annual maintenance is 20% of the net price per client computer. AppClarity's pricing is not set yet.

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We recently switched to 1E's 'ActiveEfficiency' suite which include AppClarity for desktop, as well as other tools such as Nomad and NightWatchman. Far more powerful than Adaptiva's offering, which is something of the poor man's version from what we've seen. Workspace looks like a great tool, particularly for those of us who prefer Mac!