If you're still making your staff suffer by running Windows XP, the end is nigh: extended support for XP ends on 8 April, 2014. Whether you need to urgently migrate from XP or you're contemplating a shift to a newer version of Windows, here are some key principles to keep in mind.
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Take advantage of new features
If your business is still on Windows XP, there is going to be a significant amount of retraining (and app testing) involved. Under the circumstances, you might as well bite the bullet and move both your desktop platforms and your server versions to the most recent releases possible. That will let you take full advantage of newer deployment and management options. On the server front in particular, shifting to Windows Server 2012 R2 makes far more sense than deferring to an older version.
Draw on expert services
If you are still running XP and have been adopting an ostrich-like attitude, you don't have time at this juncture to organise a full-scale migration without outside help. Yes, that's likely to cost a little more -- but a botched home-grown migration will cost you more going forward.
Change hardware as well if possible
Deploying new hardware at the same time as an OS upgrade is more expensive, but can create less hassle, since you don't have to upgrade in-place gear. Making the shift might also present the opportunity to more broadly embrace a bring-your-own-device approach.
Change your approach going forward
Windows XP was supposed to end support back in 2011, but received a number of extensions since its successor Vista proved so unpopular. However, that kind of extended reprieve is very unlikely in the future.
Most crucially, Microsoft is now running on a yearly update cycle. "The assumption used to be a new version of Windows will come out, you'll give it a year to mature, then you'll take a year to test all your apps, and then a year to deploy it," Gartner analyst Stephen Kleynhans noted in a recent Gartner Symposium presentation. "But Microsoft has reduced it to a one-year cycle. You can't have a three-year cycle in a one-year process."
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