The End Is Nigh for Windows XP

Wayne Rash

After Oct. 22, you will no longer be able to buy Windows XP on a new computer. This should be no surprise to anyone since Microsoft has been shouting this from the rooftops for years. But, of course, a lot of you are in denial. So it's time to bite the bullet and figure out what you're going to do about it.

For now, the easy solution is to simply ignore the problem. Your machines all run Windows XP and you don't intend to change. After all, change is hard, new things are scary, and if you close your eyes really tightly, maybe you can pretend that nothing is happening. Unfortunately, change is happening regardless of what you might wish for.

This means that any new machine you buy after Oct. 22 will come with Windows 7. You're going to have to learn to support a whole new operating system, and you're not sure that you want to do this. After all, Windows XP is all warm and comfortable, and you wish they'd just leave you alone. Now, at least, there's a way you can.

Prowess Corp. has started making SmartMigrate, a simplified version of its SmartDeploy product. With SmartMigrate, you get a wizard-based application that will gather your existing Windows XP environment onto a virtual hard disk and preserve it for use with Windows 7. You can either perform an in-place upgrade of Windows XP to Windows 7, and then use the Windows VPC feature to run XP in a virtual environment, or you can move the VHD to a new Windows 7 machine and run it there.

Normally this would be a complicated process that would be beyond the skill level of all the more experienced ITstaff, but SmartMigrate handles everything with a wizard. If you're an individual, the migration wizard is free. SmartDeploy is the enterprise version of the software and it's not free, but it is designed for large-scale deployments.

Unfortunately, there's a problem with running Windows XP in a virtual environment under Windows 7-you're still running Windows XP. You still have to do all of the updates and management that you'd have to do with XP, along with the updates you have to do with Windows 7, which effectively doubles your workload. Worse, when Windows XP support ends, it will end for your virtual version as well, and in the meantime you'll have all of the security issues you moved to Windows 7 to avoid.

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Oct 7, 2010 1:10 AM Allen Marsh Allen Marsh  says:
There are definitely risks to maintaining an XP VM for an extended period of time. XP virtualization should not be a permanent nor long-term solution. A virtualized XP environment buys people time to overcome any app compat issues (photo printers and label making software are common culprits!) and allows them to revert back to their familiar environment to get routine tasks done quickly while they re-learn them in a new environment. Once the issues are overcome and you are ramped up, the XP environment should be eliminated, which in the case of SmartMigrate is as simple as deleting a file. Reply
Oct 7, 2010 4:10 PM Way_Dave Way_Dave  says:
The fact is that most of the IT world is going to be caught with its proverbial pants down. There are no plans at all for migrating to Windows 7 where I am employed. Yet there are over 150 computers in 7 states that I support. Even with virtualization, there's no good answer if the problem is ignored in this way, and I don't have the power to wake people up! When we can no longer get updates for XP, and security becomes more of a joke than it already is, maybe there'll be a chance. I am the ONLY Windows 7 user in this place of business. Mine is a donated copy I purchased for my convenience and abilities, but it can't be installed on any other computer here. But I am making prograss at letting other people see that this is a real, robust, domain capable, OS with more available tools that any other ooperating system I have ever used. My greatest desire, though, is that they will do as requested and dreamed aboout, and Initead of buying another broken window that trat us all to a new install of LINUX! Reply
Oct 14, 2010 7:10 AM PlainOldThetan PlainOldThetan  says:
I was forced to install Windows 7 after my beloved Windows XP's motherboard finally failed and it was after the July 31 cutoff date. When it first occurred, I thought I could simply install Windows XP SP2 from the release media and then install all my old software. Ha! Turns out Microsoft took down ALL the Windows XP support updates from their web site. So there was no way for me to get Windows XP running on the new motherboard. Now I have the awful Windows XP and can't run my DOS apps in fullscreen mode, which they need to run. There's a million other little awful problems. Someone forgot to tell Gates that an operating system is what people use to get their job done. An operating system is not an end in and of itself. It facilitates you getting your work done. Unless it's Windows 7. And Bill shouldn't have turned a bunch of "design geeks" loose on a user interface that I was used to and able to get my job done rapidly. I do not wish to learn another browser, or explorer, or anything else. All I want is for the key applications that have run for the last 15 years to run without changes. Too bad Bill didn't put that on the requirements list for Windows 7. Now, I have the opportunity to check out Linux. Good job, Bill. Reply

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