Windows XP has gone the way of the cassette player

Microsoft panel offers tips, encouragement for IT professionals that have yet to migrate from the obsolete, 10-year-old operating system to Windows 7

Microsoft assembled a panel of MVPs, product managers and consultants on April 18 to prod those still stuck on Windows XP to move to Windows 7.

The Microsoft Springboard roundtable webcast, now available on demand, was moderated by Stephen L. Rose, a Microsoft IT professional community manager. The panel discussed the topic, "Is Windows XP Good Enough?" No one said, "Yes"; rather, the consensus was that it was just better for IT pros to modernize their systems and take advantages of the resulting efficiencies. Also, it was noted that drivers for Windows XP are getting harder to find as independent software vendors move off supporting XP-based solutions.

Rose kicked off the talk with a list of technologies that were still around when Windows XP was first introduced about 10 years ago. Those items included an Oldsmobile, a Walkman cassette player, a Nokia phone with no screen and the use of hardware devices for sector-based imaging. Most of the talk centered on rebuffing claims about application compatibility, tough learning curves and budget considerations when moving to Windows 7.

The general consensus was that if a PC was less than three years old, the hardware should be adequate to upgrade to Windows 7.

Rose noted at one point during the talk that 64 percent of companies are still using Windows XP. He added that there are a little more than 1,000 days before Microsoft's "extended support" for Windows XP ends, which is also the time that free security updates from Microsoft will stop arriving automatically. Extended support for Windows XP cuts off in April 2014.

Windows 7 support for mobility was one of the highlights mentioned during the talk. The operating system is capable of automatically finding a Wi-Fi hotspot compared with XP, noted Steven Erikson, a global desktop standards and design engineer at IPG. Rose added that users who skipped Windows Vista likely aren't aware of the improvements in search that Microsoft added to its operating system after XP, which boosts user productivity. There was also talk of increased security in Windows 7 with the user account control, as well as features such as BitLocker and AppLocker.

On the application compatibility front, Gary DiPalma, senior consultant at Microsoft Services, said that IT pros can perform an inventory of applications and decide which ones they will want to bring over to Windows 7. Another solution is shimming to get apps to work on Windows 7. If that doesn't work, the next step might be to use Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V). However, DiPalma described virtualization as "a short-term fix."

Charlie Russel, a Microsoft MVP for PowerShell, suggested that using Windows XP Mode for desktop virtualization would be an adequate solution if just a few users need to continue to use a specific XP-based application.

When it came to a discussion about deploying images, the panel generally advocated using the free Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT). It can be used with thumb-drive devices to speed up deployments across an organization. The tool can create an image in less than two minutes to push out an upgrade, according to the panel. Rose noted a statistic sourced to Gartner, which found that the average IT pro spends six hours to migrate a customer to Windows 7. He suggested spending that amount of time was unnecessary when using MDT.

IT pros also have to worry about the compatibility of their Internet Explorer 6-based Web applications when moving to Windows 7, which ships with IE 8. DiPalma claimed that about "75 percent" of IE 6-based Web apps will upgrade successfully to IE 8 without any problems. There's a change in how IE 8 handles trusted sites, but that's about it. DiPalma also said he was "confident" about Web apps based on IE 8 being compatible with the IE 10 browser when it's released. Microsoft announced the first platform preview of IE 10 last week, but the new browser won't run on Vista.

Rose noted that IT pros have access to 1,400 security policies that they can use with IE. DiPalma commented that there's no reason to go through all of them. Rather, IT pros can select the policies they want for specific purposes. Rose said some confusion remains on that point and that Microsoft has plans to release a white paper that will clear up the best practices to use.

Rose pointed IT pros to the Microsoft Springboard series websites to get more information about dealing with Microsoft product migration details. Those having Enterprise Agreements in place with Microsoft can get help setting up a testing lab, and Microsoft also provides a number of additional training resources to EA subscribers. IT pros can get direct help on setup questions by reaching out to their Microsoft partner, he added.

Microsoft has an enterprise learning framework (ELF) that serves as a communications center for Windows 7 help topics. IT pros can use ELF to build e-mail templates and populate them with help links for users who are new to working with Windows 7. Microsoft describes ELF at this TechNet page.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is the online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group sites, including Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

Reader Comments

Fri, Jun 24, 2011 Sami Thompson Texas

I've compared Windows 7 and XP in real-time usage and XP is clearly superior. The ridiculous changes in W7 slow document editing time down by 80% - and that's no exaggeration. The "ribbon" is a poor replacement for the toolbar. Whoever made these decisions obviously never does any actual work on W7. The 3 year lifespan of a computer is baloney. My computers last twice as long with no upgrades, and three times as long with upgrades. I never use Internet Explorer; I'm strictly Mozilla + AVG Security Suite. Haven't gotten a virus or spyware in years (knock wood). Can't someone make software that's friendly to XP? I'd buy it. I have no desire to upgrade and lose my XP toolbar & editing abilities.

Wed, May 11, 2011 anonymuos

Windows 7 is Vista Second edition while the upcoming Windows 8=Vista third edition. Full of gimmicks and fancy tricks. Aero Snap? There's a far better version in XP called Tile Horizontally or Tile Vertically that isn't limited to arranging just two windows but any number you select. There are many good useful features of XP removed and broken in Windows 7. The file manager, Windows Explorer was utterly destroyed in Vista and becomes worse in Windows 7. Poor usability. See www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_features_removed_in_Windows_7 and www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_features_removed_in_Windows_Vista . Unnecessary GUI changes. Vista was innonative but horrible usability wise and removed things. Windows 7 is Vista with few new features and again many features removed and fancy gimmicks and shiny graphics added. XP was THE BEST because it did not change the GUI and move everything around just for sake of change.

Microsoft made a classic blunder with the GUI for Windows 7. They made it completely different from XP and buried, eliminated or dumbed down most of the truly useful features. Better OS or not, they alienated all their XP customers.

Wed, May 11, 2011 anonymous

Bill Gates and Microsoft (and other software makers) know how to make money, over and over, from the public, by selling you THE SAME THING over and over and effectively charging you 10 times for one product. That is how Vista and Windows 7 came about.

Here is how it works. When designing any software, they purposefully put some new defects and/or leave basic essential features out. Then a couple of years later, they come up with a "new version" in which some of those left out features are put back in. This "upgrade" or new version is, however, secretly damaged in other ways and, in reality, is really a degrade. A few years later, another "new version" comes out claiming to fix those problems--and it does, but destroys something else in the previous version that was working.

Windows 98 and XP were real improvements over their predecessors. But the file search interface that worked well in 98 was destroyed in XP. XP Professional is the best OS Windows could make. Vista was a completely destroyed, mutilated and eviscerated version of XP. In Word 97, the tool bars were big fat useless junkyards missing basic cut and paste but taking up space. In Vista, basic essential features were removed. The toolbar (the very essence of Windows and graphical user interfaces) was exterminated, and basic point and click and gaining and losing that Bill Gates knew how to do right in Word 2.0 in 1989 was mangled. See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_features_removed_in_Windows_Vista
and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_features_removed_in_Windows_7
Vista and Windows 7 were, as if, built by a madman who takes a normal car (XP), smashes the dashboard and puts a shiny plate to cover it up, puts the brake pedal in the trunk and the gas pedal under the back seat and the steering behind. This "upgrade" racket makes you go round and round in circles, spending money thinking it is a real "upgrade", when, in fact, each "upgrade" is really a circular downgrade. It is a shame that Bill Gates, already so rich, would resort to such fraud and racketeering. Microsoft needs to be sued.

Sun, Apr 24, 2011 Oosterhagen http://www.oosterhagen.net

It's not only that W7 needs substantial sophisticated hardware for smooth opertion but also tha fact that there also a major breach in UI experience that holds users to the XP platform. I use XP, W7 and Kubuntu but prefer Xp for it's ease of use and spartan simplicity. After that I tend to use Kubuntu more and nore often becaus of it's sleek interface (KDE with Enlightment)and because it's security-model. No virus in the wild and a solid user management. Windows7 stays on my laptop just to get aquinted to this new OS, but there are major drawbacks for me to use it Why can't I have a virtual desktop that extends the resolution my monitor can offer? Why do have to search to get things done even though I've used windows for mre than 20 years?) Me thinks MS is missing the boat...

Fri, Apr 22, 2011 Col. Panek New York

Six days until Ubuntu 11.04 release. You have nothing to lose but your chains.

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