Procrastinating on Windows 7 upgrade could be costly

IT departments waiting for the end of XP support to move to Windows 7 may get stuck paying for expensive custom support

Not everyone is interested in upgrading to Windows 7 -- at least not right away. Computerworld 's survey respondents who said they have no plans to upgrade reported that they just don't anticipate enough benefit, particularly in these tough economic times, to warrant the cost of migration.

For Carl Weddle, director of IT at Quality Trailer Products, Windows 7 isn't even on the radar. "We were clawing our way out of a hole until a few months ago," he says, referring to the recession. Even in better times, he adds, "I tend to stay on the back end of the technology curve because it's cheaper there."

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But procrastinating could be costly in the long run. Microsoft says it will end support for Windows XP with Service Pack 3 on April 8, 2014. (Organizations still using SP2 will lose support in 2012). Companies that wait too long -- or whose migration projects get too far behind schedule -- may get stuck paying for custom support, under which access to critical security fixes could cost more than $200,000 per year.

Microsoft has pushed back support dates before, and some organizations are staying on the sidelines to see if that happens again. "We'll wait and see if Microsoft talks about extending that," says Norbert Cointepoix, director of IT at Axium Healthcare Pharmacy. And Sean Seay, corporate director of infrastructure at Premier Health Partners, isn't in a rush to upgrade the health care provider's 10,000-plus Windows XP computers. "We hope Microsoft extends" XP support, he says.

But don't count on Microsoft sliding the end-of-support date this time. Gartner analyst Michael Silver says the company may have learned to stand firm on such matters. "Every time they delay end of support, companies delay plans to get off the old OS," he says. He suggests that organizations should start migrating now, noting that XP will be more than 12 years old in 2014.

Vince Biddlecombe had another reason to wait: Office 2010 , which launched earlier this month. Biddlecombe, chief technology officer at logistics service provider Transplace in Frisco, Texas, says he'll do a wholesale replacement of about 500 desktops along with his Windows 7 migration, now that Office 2010 has shipped for businesses. "It didn't seem like a good idea to roll out a whole new bunch of desktops and then turn around and have to do an Office 2010 upgrade," he says.

Waiting for Office 2010 before deploying Windows 7 may kill two birds with one stone, but Silver notes that it will also make upgrading more complicated.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld 's print edition. It was adapted from an article that first ran on

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This story, "Procrastinating on Windows 7 upgrade could be costly" was originally published by Computerworld.

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