Tips for SMBs that Still Need to Make the Jump from XP

Kim Mays
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Top Issues Affecting SMB Employees Today

The Windows XP end of support (EOS) date of April 8, 2014, is rapidly approaching, but many small to midsize businesses (SMBs) have yet to make the leap to a more up-to-date version. The reasons why vary—some lack the manpower and budget required to update 200 or more computers, and others simply don’t have on-site tech support to even realize how to go about making the upgrade.

To help SMBs figure out which computers will need to be upgraded and help smaller shops learn how to migrate to a newer OS, Microsoft Windows blogger Jay Paulus created a detailed checklist. In the list, he covers everything from the basics (how to tell if your computer is running XP) to migration strategy tips. He offers a few reminders, too:

Few things are as frustrating as picking a new device, moving over your data and sitting down to work, only to discover that a critical business application is not compatible with your new operating system. To avoid this, evaluate your applications before starting your migration. Not only should you check the applications downloaded directly onto your PCs, you should also double check any web-based applications that your business uses to ensure they will work with an updated version of your internet browser.

According to Ambareesh Kulkarni, VP of professional services at IT provider 1E in his tips for InformationWeek, application compatibility is definitely where many businesses get stuck in the migration from Windows XP.

Our recommendation is to focus on this first and package only the applications that are necessary after the OS migration, and then let the users select the applications they need from a catalog that they can download and install themselves after the migration. Through the process of rationalization, customers avoid costs to remediate applications that they don't use.

Another important factor to consider is whether any in-house or specialty written applications will be affected by the migration. ComputerWeekly explained the challenges in a recent post:

Many in-house applications are written for a browser front end, but some browser applications written for IE6 on XP will not run correctly on IE8 in Windows 7.

Though Paulus’ blog ends with the suggestion to migrate to Windows 8.1, recent complaints about the “touch user interface” not being familiar for employees may make some think twice. It’s important to consider whether the upgrade to Windows 7 might work for now, or if the company should bite the bullet and move on to Windows 8.1 and deal with training issues now, rather than later.

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