Windows XP Retirement – Evaluating Options
So you’ve finally made the decision that you can’t in fact wait or bury your head in the sand and hope the Windows XP retirement doesn’t affect you?
It’s all well and good if you’ve only a couple of PC’s / Laptops but what about if you’ve a tight budget or 20+ PC’s all with OEM office? Suddenly the replacement costs are running to 4 or 5 figure sums and the Finance people are starting to cry.
In this scenario you need to ask yourself a number of questions. These will guide you to what options are available to you:
- Do you have software that will not run on newer Windows versions? If so are there upgrades available?
- Have you a support contract with your software providers (Accounts Package etc)?
- Do you have OEM or Open Licence Software (Particularly MS Office)?
- Is the MS Office edition 2003 or before?
- Are you in a closed network or do your machines need internet access?
- Are the machines remote usage or do they all sit on premises?
- Would staff/ the company be open to BYOD (Bring Your Own device)?
- What kind of budget do you have?
With this information you can then sit down and work out what you need to do. In the event that you have multiple windows XP machines with OEM Office then you are in for a hefty bill. One solution would be to go with VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) whereby you could reuse the equipment as Dumb terminals and focus the IT spend on a couple of servers running VDI. There are a number of options out there for this among them: Citrix, Microsoft Terminal Services, IGel and VMware.
Another option would be that you could try upgrading the existing equipment (Mainly RAM) if it is sufficiently powerful from a processor perspective and buying a Windows 7 upgrade license. This is definitely not recommended in the majority of cases as this can strain the machines to the point where they are of little use. Plus the hardware will be outside warranty and if it fails the day after upgrading you’re left with another sunk cost.
Finally you can buy new equipment and start again from day 0 with new hardware and OS. Depending on the number of machines it may be more or less expensive than the VDI infrastructure but is the easiest to implement as it has been the standard practice for many years.
As for the other answers to your questions above, if you have software that doesn’t work past Windows XP then you need to take a serious look at this and talk with your supplier or make plans to upgrade the software or dedicate a couple of machines to it’s operation but keep them separate to your network to ensure their security holes aren’t used to gain access to your wider network.
Tomorrow we’ll compare the two main options and identify their strengths and weaknesses.