back to article Don’t let Microsoft timescales dictate your Windows migration

There is a lot of talk at the moment about desktop migration schedules. With the majority of enterprises still managing XP estates, the big question is whether to make a short term move to Vista, hang on and wait for Windows 7, or dig in and not think about it until you really have to. A minority - typically represented by …


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  1. N Silver badge

    Well dug in

    6 foot trench, concrete bunkers & all machine gun posts manned,

    Dont really care what Microsoft do as most of their rant is irrelevant.

  2. Mark

    Until they kill support

    Either support for new hardware (USB and AGP for Win95, anyone?) or new applications (DirectX 10 is Vista only?), or obscure format change in documentation (.doc, .docx and MSOOXML, anyone?) in which case you will be forced to update to the latest and greatest or jump through hoops in punishment for leaving the fold.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    There is always client virtualisation to get around the rollout issue and more importantly the support issue for all those PC's out there.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    butter hawker

    "And with the relentless upgrade spiral among software vendors, practicality says you can’t fall too far behind ..."

    As a foul-mouthed butter hawker once said, ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

  5. Mark

    re: Virtualise

    Well, there are EULA's against that (which is why it's a contract, running under a virtual machine is not a copyright controlled action).

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Avoid Vista

    As a long time Vista user I have gotten to appreciate some of it's finer points. I'm privileged to escape our corporates OS policy of XP only systems.

    And also upgrade when you are ready is sound advice, but please let me loudly recommend: AVOID THE VISTA UPGRADE EXPERIENCE

    the pay-off / pain balance is awful for enterprises because when you expand out strange glitches like I've had across 1000's of less technical users it will be a killer. User support effort on Vista "funnies" is not worthwhile when Win 7 avoids them.

  7. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    The biggest sticking point I see right now is the huge growth in PC usage. The number of desktop machines is still rising and average company numbers of 5000+ desktops is not unusual now. It's hardly surprising that it takes anywhere from 9 -18 months just to plan a desktop rollout, let alone actually doing it.

    I can see as we move further down the road there will come a time when shear number of companies refusing to upgrade will force MS into stagnation, companies will simply demand support on old products, no EOLs will be tolerated.

    "Sorry but we now have 75,000 desktops in our company alone and we can't afford the time to upgrade so you'd better give us support for the next decade past EOL or our hot-shot lawyers will be looking for loopholes in your contracts if one byte of user data gets lost!"

  8. Steve Loughran

    Training costs for users

    This article omits the issue with user education, fielding UAC-related support costs, and the hassle of getting all your internal web sites to work with IE7, soon IE8

    1. Web sites should be redesigned to work with firefox. Users can be moved to firefox now, staying with it when they move off XP onto Vista, Linux, win7

    2. You will save on user training and support costs if you keep with XP until windows 7 has shipped.

    There is also the office 2007 problem. Having been using it for 4 months, I still don't like the ribbon. You could push it out on winXP now, or move everyone to openoffice instead.

  9. myxiplx

    @Dale Vile

    "And with the relentless upgrade spiral among software vendors, practicality says you can’t fall too far behind ..."

    Unless of course Vista is enough of a flop that developers realize it would be commercial suicide to release software that doesn't support XP, in which case you can look forward to it working indefinitely.

    That is the biggest problem for Microsoft, and the reason they're so keen to discontinue XP. A lot of companies aren't going to move until they're forced, meaning XP potentially still has a long and productive life ahead of it. We've certainly got no intentions of moving to Vista (or Windows 7), and have enough spare XP licenses to last us the next 5 years, by which time the desktop market could look very different indeed.

  10. Ewen Bruce
    Jobs Horns

    Whither the benfits case?

    "larger organisations that have taken Vista fully on board report significant payback from operational improvements". Really? maybe you should tell MS as they haven't come up with any after 2 years of asking.

  11. John

    For some companies that's not viable

    I work for a major company. We have tens of thousands of desktops all running Windows 2000 currently. Many moons ago, our company made the decision to skip XP. As many people know XP was less than exciting when it was released. As a matter of fact it contained many problems that my company was not willing to deal with. Since MS was supposedly on a 3-5 year release cycle, a decision was made to skip XP and wait for the next OS. Also, since the company had already migrated to 2000, it did not make sense to quickly migrate to XP (which was released only a year later).

    So now we have a problem. Microsoft is going to end support for 2000. We have only 3 real choices here. #1 upgrade to XP. This doesn't make much sense as XP is almost as old as Windows 2000 is. #2 upgrade to Vista. This is the current objective and they are very close to production rollout (despite the problems we have had during testing). #3 stay on 2000 longer with either A paying extra cash for support from Microsoft (security patches mostly). Part of our business is going to do this as their part of the business is far to valuable to risk major downtime with Vista and performance issues, or B no support, which is not an option, but I there it in anyway.

    Going to Windows 7 isn't an option at this time. There isn't near enough time for a company this size to test Windows 7 against all the software used in this organization. Vista has been tested. There are some successes and failures, but it's been tested. No OS has a perfect test record. 2000 didn't either when they moved to that either.

    As for "virtualization" someone else mentioned. This is not an option either. Although some desktops who use light applications could possibly do this, it is not sufficient for our needs. I heard a story from an employee who has been with the company a long time that our company tried to go the thin client route many years ago. It failed miserably as a lot of applications did not perform as required, and the number of clients per server is miserable. We still sue thin client for some things, and it's an awful experience on the Windows side (the *nix side is actually fairly pleasant).

    What do I do for the company? I am a Windows admin turned *nix admin. I was sick of fixing Windows problems 90% of the time and only 10% of my time spent making things actually better. As a *nix admin I spend over 90% of my time making things better.

  12. Eddie Johnson

    No hurry mates

    All the apps and drivers I run in my shop still support Win2K, and I still have 2K machines running quite successfully. On shiny new hardware even. I don't see a lack of application support for XP for 5+ years. 2K is still supported because XP pretty much added nothing feature wise, the last thing added to Windows was in the NT=>2K jump with NTFS changes, USB and dynamic disks. I anticipate running 2K and XP until 2012 at least.

    Security? Why are all your machines even exposed to the internet?

  13. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    This is getting interesting

    I am reading more and more about how companies balk at replacing an OS that works for them. And you have to ask : just what gives MS the right to EOL an OS ? Be it XP or Windows 3.11, Microsoft has convinced millions of businesses to put their operating life on the Windows line. And all of a sudden (okay, not so suddenly, but still) they show up and say "Oh, by the way, we're not supporting this version any more. Upgrade or you're screwed".

    I may be weird, but it seems to me that if a business says "We're keeping this version, it's your duty to support us", then MS should not have a choice.

    I find it curious that a software company can dictate an upgrade cycle worth trillions to millions of business customers. And the failure of Vista is a really tell-tale sign that businesses are wising up to the fact.

    An OS is nothing but an enabler for applications to use system resources, end of story. The only reason one should have to upgrade the OS is stay current on hardware improvements, not to get a shiny new UI with a DRM infestation.

    In an ideal world, a UI would be an add-on downloaded from the Net, not a core part of the OS. The OS does not need a UI to function, and the existence of a UI should not determine anything else but how the user interacts with the applications at his disposal.

    Gosh, I feel like I just described a Unix environment. Must be growing a beard.

  14. Eddie Johnson


    Why do you care about support from MS? Have you ever gotten any? That helped? A good googling will get you far better advice that talks *about* the problem rather than talking *around* the problem as MS is so prone to do.

    I'm much more comfortable with an OS where I've learned all the quirks after 8 years, I can't ever see needing MS support for 2K. Have trouble? Worst case is wipe and reinstall which you should have down to a science by now.

  15. Geoff Mackenzie

    "the consequences of choosing one route or the other are not that great"

    Hmm, my thoughts exactly.

  16. John


    YES! We are a large customer, and we do get real support directly from Microsoft. As for not wanting/needing security updates, as posted by you earlier, we have users who access the internet at work with their computer. IE is preinstalled on every system. YES we need security updates. Think not running as admin is secure? Obviously you're not familiar with the security problems in IE. Every user is a potential security risk. We need patches for security holes.

    Trust me, I am perfectly happy with win2k, but 3rd party vendors don't support win2k anymore. There are some that do, but there are many that don't. XP and up. We have even installed several XP machines simply for support for a particular vendor. We limit it as much as possible, but it does exist in the organization.

    Honestly, I don't think upper management is forceful enough with the vendors. I agree that we should be able to simply say "NO, we will not upgrade, we need support for this platform," but it's just not going to happen. We're a large customer, but not the only customer. So unless enough businesses do the same, we're stuck with the upgrade cycle specified by the vendor.

  17. Mark

    @Pascal Monett

    What SHOULD happen is that if a software product is EOL'd then the source code for that EOL'd product MUST be made available.

    After all, if you aren't making anything from it, what do you lose when you give the copyright away? Nothing that wouldn't be an abuse of monopoly.

  18. Doug Bostrom

    "Really Have To" migrate?

    "Really Have To" migrate means we all tacitly accept that we don't control our IT, MS does. Same sort of sheepishly grinning shuffle as when you're being herded into a stadium as part of a mass arrest, or other totalitarian psychological jujitsu action. Gas chamber comes to mind, but perhaps that's a bit strong.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    But what about the code that is transplanted from the old product into the new product? Should they open that too? Also, there is a very good chance that Microsoft (or whichever company is EOLing a product) won't actually own the rights to open all of the code, for instance look at the problems that IBM had with looking into opening OS/2, it was full of other companies code.

    I don't have a problem with companies EOLing a product, if they have a clearly set timetable and they don't prevent users from using their old software when the new is released. It's not as if someone buying commercial software can realistically claim that they had no knowledge that the manufacturer would stop supporting it.

    It's the same in the world of hardware, I've got an old Sony telly, very old, there is no way that any of the sony specific parts can be replaced, I may have a sporting chance of fixing it myself if something simple goes wrong, but I don't blame Sony for not producing servicable parts for obsolete hardware, why should they?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Or it could mean that the app vendor controlls your IT, maybe? Case in point: At my work we have just had to rip out a load of RHEL 32bit and stick in 64bit because the vendor, having told us they supported 32bit, turned out not to with a particular version of their software. It's not just a closed/cost vs open/free problem.

    In big IT shops, this is just something that you have to deal with - Up to date software probably won't run on out of date OSes.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What a load of nonsense.

    The article implies people are compelled to change their OS. Rubbish, if the system does what it needs to there is zero need, just as you don't go looking to change the firmware in your TV or microwave oven very often if ever.

    No, people are not contemplating migration to Vista. No, they are not either migrating or waiting till they "must", they are simply not stupid enough to change something that works for no real reason, having recognized they know their business needs better than an analyst or MS' marketing department.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Won't someone think of the licenses...

    Something I have not seen mentioned here is MS' OS licensing model. Presently our organisation uses an XP based environment that has evolved into something relativley easily managed and reliable. We do try and roll our desktop fleet over and all new workstations come with an OEM Vista license which is downgraded to XP. Something many people don't realise is that the current OEM license only allows downgrade by 1 version so as soon as Windows 7 is released, you will no longer be able to buy a new workstation and load XP UNLESS you own non-OEM XP licenses (and then there's this wierd 60 day clause for moving a license) or have an ELA.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Upgrade Cycles

    The m$ EULA is unreasonable. They accept no liabilities for failure of their products. They should. Similarly they should be legally bound to provide support for their software until the hardware it runs on is no longer commercially viable.

    We still have 20+ year old DEC machines chugging along without issues. The O/S and applications are still viable. It is just that the hardware platform it runs on is now difficult to source if it fails. So we have to upgrade, most likely to a different platform. Having to upgrade like this is OK. Real business objectivity justifies the value of the machines current function, and their replacement on becoming obsolete.

    m$ cannot hold a gun to your head and tell you to upgrade because they are 'terminating support'. It should be the other way round. m$ looking down the barrels of many end-user guns saying 'go ahead punks - make my day'. As they still won't get the message, I expect to hear a long, loud, protracted BANG.

    What is unreasonable is to expect m$ to invest huge amounts of additional resource upgrading an older O/S, eg. w98 to work with newer and more powerful hardware. If we were talking of a new machine, but running an older O/S, i.e. migration of a license over a large hardware upgrade leap, this would perhaps be a reasonable cut-off point.

    My thoughts on this. Thanks for reading.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    I'm waiting for "Windows Shorts"

    Because their previous efforts have been Pants!

  25. peter

    step off the desktop upgrade spiral completely

    - deploy applications to web

    - use w3c & similar open standards

    - avoid proprietary solutions

    - access corporate systems from practically any device

  26. Tim Bates

    Re: article title

    If you aren't going to let MS timeframes dictate how you deploy software, then you're going to have to go all out and refuse to use MS software at all.

    Which I'm fine with.

  27. Eric Van Haesendonck

    Cost of migration has become too great.

    For Big corporation that have invested heavily in internally developed software, migration to any OS which is not 100% compatible with windows 2000 / XP is way too expensive to justify.

    In 2000 - 2001 when companies moved from NT4 to 2000 or XP there was much less custom client side software deployed in companies, most relied on mainframe and terminal emulators. Windows 2000 /XP provided clear stability and security benefits compared to NT4, and still many corporation dragged their feets for years because the compatibility issues were already almost too big to justify the migration.

    Now companies have had years to develop many more custom applications AND Vista doesn't really solve any big problem corporations have. How do they expect to convince them to upgrade this time around when it will be much more costly to do for much less benefit I don't know.

    Platform migrations now cost huge amounts of money and take years. A company I know started migrating it's internal client applications from VB6 to .NET in 2007 and now hope to finish in 2010, that's 3 to 4 years just to migrate. And I am not yet talking about the pre-VB 6 apps that still need to be used day to day (apps developed with exotic frameworks like visual age etc...).

    To make a migration to Vista cost effective MS should ensure that all that third party legacy "crap from the 90s" still works on the latest and greatest OS, but apparently they don't, so companies don't migrate, as simple as that.

  28. David Hicklin


    Any software that is EOL'd / ends support should have any licencing restrictions removed.

    An example for XP is that the Genuine Windows Disadvantage would get trashed, and a generic code would enable it.

    I'd love the EU or someone to make this the law.

  29. Mark


    "But what about the code that is transplanted from the old product into the new product? Should they open that too?"


    They get a completely new copyright and associated powers of EULA with the new product.

    And how will having "lost" copyright on

    if ( iRetVal eq 2) {

    how does that cheapen their new hotness that ALSO has

    if (iRetVal eq 2) {


    It's not as if you can take the old OS and write the changes they did to get the new OS yourself (and if you did, so what? It would either take decades or MS gypped you for costs).

    So what is lost if the old code is opened? Whatever is lost, they lose less if they just lose the binary copyrights.

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