Some of the preparatory steps can be sped up using tools. For example ChangeBase and AppDNA can help determine whether business apps are compatible with newer OSs. If not businesses may need to buy newer versions that are or in the case of custom software, recoding it, Allaway says.
Microsoft is offering a free and now unsupported version of Laplink's PCmover Express for Windows XP to transfer files from XP machines to machines with newer operating systems. PCmover Professional ($60) also moves applications, if that's called for.
Allaway says it's a good time to rid the network of deadware rogue apps installed by end users or corporate apps that are no longer used that have avoided detection during housecleaning over the years. "There's a sense of urgency [about the XP migration] but clean a little junk out of your network if you can," Allaway says. Those who have waited a decade to upgrade the operating system may have let this slide.
If an apps inventory is long overdue, it is also a good time to check whether apps licenses are in synch with the number of workers actually using the software. Restructuring license agreements may produce cost savings, he says.
PC upgrades may be needed to support a new operating system, but hardware needs may go beyond that. Old printers may lack drivers for Windows 7 or Windows 8, and there may be some machines such as faxes that may not be necessary at all anymore, he says.
Like any desktop refresh project moving to Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 requires someone in charge, either in-house or a consultant, a plan for a phased rollout and personnel to help resolve the inevitable issues that will arise after the rollout. "Don't resource-starve the project," Allaway says. "It ultimately costs more and takes longer."
One thing to remember is that on April 8. Windows XP will keep chugging along, but the risk of being successfully attacked goes up more and more after that. "It's not Y2K where come April it's not going to work," he says.
Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @Tim_Greene.
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