Tick, tick, tick, tick. That sound you hear is the clock winding down on the life of the Windows XP operating system. As of today, you have less than two years left until Microsoft will no longer support the OS. Two years may sound like a long time, but if you haven't even begun to consider migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7, the pressure is on.
Your Windows XP systems will still work the same as they have for the last decade. But, as of April 8, 2014 Microsoft will no longer support the operating system, or provide patches or security updates. So, from that point forward the OS will become increasingly unstable and insecure. Essentially, you'll be on your own.
With time winding down on Windows XP and Office 2003, software and hardware vendors may already jump ship. As time goes on, more and more new products will not include support for Windows XP or Office 2003, and third-party vendors will be less likely to support or update older products designed for these legacy platforms.
By the way, Office 2003 is on its deathbed as well. For larger companies, the process of testing and deploying a new desktop operating system to hundreds or thousands of users is a meticulous process that takes months, or even years.
On a site dedicated to the end of support for Windows XP and Office 2003, Microsoft states, "Based on historical customer deployment data, the average enterprise deployment can take 18 to 32 months from business case through full deployment." Assuming that is accurate, those organizations that fall in the 24 to 32 month range for full deployment are already behind the proverbial 8-ball.
Windows 7 and Office 2010 both offer a variety of improvements and features that make them more secure by design, and enable users to work more efficiently and be more productive. And, the reality is that even Windows 7 and Office 2010 will be soon be replaced by Windows 8 and "Office 15" as the new flagship software from Microsoft.
So, there's no time like the present to start looking at your options and planning your migration off of Windows XP and/or Office 2003. Should you move to Windows 7, or hold out and jump straight to Windows 8?
Microsoft offers a variety of tools and services that may make the transition easier. Windows Intune provides a variety of features for managing and maintaining Windows PCs from the cloud, and includes upgrade rights to the latest version of Windows. Subscribing to Windows Intune could be a simple way to move from Windows XP to Windows 7 to Windows 8 while getting some additional capabilities at the same time.
IT admins should also consider the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) and Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). The MDT is designed to streamline and automate Windows deployments, and MDOP has tools to address application compatibility issues and ensure a smooth transition off of Windows XP.
The clock is ticking. Start figuring out how to migrate off of Windows XP now.
This story, "Clock is ticking on XP -- time to start OS migration" was originally published by PCWorld.