Warning. You are entering Windows XP Danger Zone.

Warning -You-are-entering-Windows-XP-Danger-Zone

In exactly a year’s time Microsoft ceases its extended support for Windows XP and many businesses, unless they have migrated to a new Operating System, will face costly custom support. With time ticking away IT departments now find themselves in what top analysts call the migration “danger zone”, with little or no time left to complete the process before they are charged exorbitant support costs that will undoubtedly complicate budgets for many businesses. Despite much publicity from leading analyst houses, and Microsoft itself, strongly advising companies to migrate to the next OS – specifically Windows 7 or 8– many organizations have been at a loss as to how to achieve this cost-effectively and efficiently before the scheduled end date.

Organizations that are not yet off the starting blocks or only a little way down the track are highly unlikely to complete before the Microsoft deadline. Whether the delay is because they misunderstood the sheer scale of the project, or that they are coming across myriad technical hurdles – from application reinstallation to gotchas around device drivers – which they never encountered before, it means they cannot confidently predict when they will finish the project or how much it will cost them. Ultimately the challenge of such a project is that few IT teams will have ever experienced such a complex migration.

The most common approach to tackling a major OS migration is for IT departments to manage the migration process themselves. However, the challenge with moving to Windows 7 is that few have ever experienced such a complex migration, so are coming across myriad issues – from application mapping to gotchas around device drivers – which they never encountered before. They may think they are close to completion, but there will be many ‘unknowns’ they haven’t anticipated which will impact timescales.

The unknown pitfalls of a Windows migration

“There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld

No single ‘unknown’ will be massively complex, but each represents a hurdle to be overcome and IT teams shouldn’t be duped into thinking that they are nearing completion just because they’ve cleared one jump. The reality is they still won’t know how far they are from finishing the migration. Projects become long, slow and complex and risk extending beyond April 2014.

The alternative: automation, automation, automation

Instead of just persevering with labor-intensive, increasingly lengthy manual migration projects, organizations need to look for newer, less painful, solutions.

Using automation to upgrade computers from Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7 will free up the engineering resource to train users on how to use the new OS and make the whole employee experience much more positive.

Traditionally a visit from an engineer would mean them taking over the computer for a few hours while the user does something (or nothing) else – in fact this can affect productivity for even longer periods, with the user unable to use their PC for the best part of a day. A better scenario would be that a user’s machine is automatically upgraded overnight (or at a time of their choosing when they won’t be disrupted) and then the IT resource (helpdesk and engineers) can focus on educating users about the new OS and productively use the newly installed applications. IT departments simply do not have enough time to do this today, as they are bogged down with cumbersome, manual processes and troubleshooting.

Talk to the Experts and beat the April 2014 deadline:

At 1E over the past 10 years we’ve been doing this year in, year out and each time we’ve encountered one of those problems we have automated it. If you would like to learn more or request a Windows 7 consultation, 1E consultants are available to discuss any issues around Windows 7 migration and help you overcome any Windows XP migration challenges you may come across.

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