Next April, Microsoft ends support for Windows XP. While your applications will continue to run, for now, XP will not longer receive security updates. XP will no longer support all future updates to your applications, which can render applications inoperable.
The logical next step seems to be upgrade, but at what price?
Bringing a Windows XP environment up to Windows 8 (or even Windows 7) has a cascade effect that easily becomes an expensive proposition, especially if you do not have free upgrades available for applications and utilities as part of support contracts or subscriptions.
Most computers running Windows XP cannot support the increased demands of Windows 7 or 8. With slower processors and less memory, expect that you will need to replace some, if not all, of your desktops and laptops.
Moving to Windows 7 or 8 means moving to a 64-bit operating system. If you have not done so yet, you will need to pay to upgrade your Client Access Licenses, or CALs, to 64-bit versions. This holds not just for Windows Server CALs, but Exchange and SQL Server CALs as well. This can add over $100 per machine to the cost of changing.
You will need to upgrade backup, virus protection, and other utilities to versions compatible with the new operating system. Unless you are protected by an support/maintenance agreement with upgrade rights, expect to spend anywhere from about thirty up to a few hundred dollars per machine.
Many of your existing applications will not run on Windows 7 or Windows 8, or are not supported by the vendor on those versions. Again, upgrading applications can be costly and may require updating data formats as well.
While, replacing Windows XP can easily become an expensive, capital-intensive, project, you do have alternatives.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, known as VDI, solutions let you move into a current platform — and stay current — without the heavy upfront investment. The basic VDI environment provides a full Windows desktop experience. And, while you will still need to upgrade your business applications, most VDI environments include the most recent version of MS Office, virus protection, and backup/recovery services.
Additionally, because your computing is in the cloud, your existing computers serve as terminals, or thin clients. You can extend the life of these systems without adding security risks. And, when you replace them, you can go forward with lower cost, think client solutions for the desktop and mobile users. Your VDI environment also works from smartphones and tablets, improving access while enhancing security.
As for budget, VDI services are operating expenses, not capital expenditures. Check with your CFO or accountant, as this is often preferred.
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