Gartner encourages businesses to start to look to the end of Windows XP

Organisations should be planning and testing Windows 7 this year with a view to moving off Windows XP by the end of 2012.

According to Gartner, organisations need to move away from Windows XP before Microsoft ends support for it in April 2014. If possible, they should eliminate it by the end of 2012 when new versions of many applications are not expected to support XP, and independent software vendors (ISVs) will increasingly eliminate XP support.

Once a target end date has been set, the approach to deployment must be decided. This could take place all at once in a 'forklift' project, or over time through attrition, as companies replace their PC hardware.

It also claimed that organisations need to work backward from their target end date to find the latest date they can begin the actual deployment, and need 12 to 18 months for planning, testing and piloting.

Michael Silver, vice president and analyst at Gartner, said: “In various Gartner polls and surveys, 80 per cent of respondents report skipping Windows Vista. With Windows XP getting older and Windows 8 nowhere in sight, organisations need to be planning their migrations to Windows 7.

“Windows 7 has been getting positive reviews, and many clients report that they have plans to start their production deployments, but there are some that are still undecided about when to start and how quickly to do the migration."

Laurence Painell, Windows product manager, said: “All products have a natural lifecycle, driven by the fact the needs of PC users is changing at an increasingly rapid pace. When support ends for XP in 2014, the product will be 14 years old, and the context for which it was invented will have changed dramatically.

“Today's IT systems are more advanced and business and consumer requirements are more mature. It's important that operating systems keep pace with these changes and evolve to support new demands.

“Customer interests lie at the heart of the product lifecycle process and by the time support ends for XP, there will be better products available that are more suitable to the modern environment and will provide an improved, optimised PC experience for the end-user. Many new versions of common applications and new hardware may not support XP either. Over the next couple of years, we would advise customers to begin migration to more recent platforms so they can enjoy the best PC experience possible.”

Microsoft has confirmed that it will stop support for Windows 2000 and will stop releasing security updates, hotfixes and other updates for Windows XP SP2 after 13th July, with confirmation that ten patches will be released tomorrow.

Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys, advised users to update to XP SP3 or Windows 7.

He said: “Nevertheless we see a large number of machines in enterprise networks still running under Windows XP SP2. Even with a significant increase in the upgrade ratio, up from the 20 per cent and 30 per cent achieved in 2008 and 2009 respectively, we are still over a year away from having all machines migrated, threatening to leave many machines exposed to exploits for the vulnerabilities that we expect in the second half of 2010.

“Home users should be better off, as XP SP3 is being pushed down automatically to machines that participate in Windows or Microsoft updates. On the enterprise side however it seems that two years of burn-in time is not enough, and it would be helpful if Microsoft could extend support for one more year.”

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