Coping with Windows Diversity

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

The State of the Microsoft Desktop

Customers are taking a piecemeal approach to Windows 7 and Office 2010 upgrades.

One of the most attractive things to corporate IT about Windows used to be the homogenous nature of the Microsoft operating system environment. The basic theory was that IT organizations could minimize the number of images to be managed, reducing their systems-management headaches.

But with the arrival of Windows 7, not to mention multiple versions of Windows XP, the homogenous nature of the Windows environment is no more. And given the piecemeal pace of upgrades to Windows 7, it looks as if Windows XP and Windows 7 environments will be running side by side for years.

A new study of 953 IT professionals conducted by Dimensional Research on behalf of Dell KACE, a provider of systems-management appliances, 48 percent plan to continue running Windows XP even after Microsoft discontinues support for it. And when IT organizations do move to Windows 7 and Office 2010, the vast majority don't expect to buy new hardware.

How that strategy holds up, given application performance, remains to be seen. The majority appear to be treating Windows 7 and Office 2010 as separate upgrade issues, given that Windows 7 runs most Windows XP applications, and Office 2010 has a new user interface that requires training for users. Nevertheless, more than half said they would be running Office 2010 sometime between now and the end of next year.

According to Dell KACE President Rob Meinhardt, one of the more surprising aspects of the study is how dependent IT organizations still are on manual migration processes. At a time when IT organizations are short on staff, Meinhardt says there needs to be more emphasis on providing tools to smooth the migration process. If the overall process is smoother, the migration to Windows 7 and Office 2010 will go faster as more users are exposed to the platform and IT organizations discover how much more robust the Windows 7 platform is. As that happens, the complexity of managing heterogeneous Windows environments will be sharply reduced.

The Dell KACE study also finds that while Office still dominates the desktop, open source productivity applications such as OpenOffice and cloud computing services such as Google Docs are making inroads.

All in all, the study highlights that there is still significant amount of work to done on making the move to Windows and managing what essentially will be a heterogeneous Windows environment going forward.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Nov 4, 2010 10:02 AM Trey Grant Trey Grant  says:

Windows XP will be around until 2014.  One day Microsoft will say, this is what you will upgrade to continue using Microsoft products.  If you have not upgraded Office from Office 2003, you will have trouble viewing some items.  Now, MS is releasing Office 2010.  Old Office users step up.

Nov 8, 2010 2:54 AM Ian James Ian James  says:

Am I right in thinking that since Internet Explorer 9 does not run on XP, the defacto end of XP might very well be the date that Microsoft stops patching IE8?

Now, if that is going to be well after XP is no longer supported, OK. But if support for IE8 runs out before it does for XP, will there be a security risk?


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