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Microsoft Operating Systems Upgrades Windows IT

Time To Dump XP? 1213

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the wasn't-that-ship-date dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Gartner is saying it's time to plan your migration now (if you havent already done it). I for one know my company still has loads of users still on XP, citing training costs (time and money) rather than software license fees. Is my company alone in wanting to stay in the 1990s or is Windows 7 the way forward?"
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Time To Dump XP?

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  • Not only... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:12AM (#32510670) Homepage

    ...is my company still using Windows XP SP2, but we are still using IE6. Feh...and they complained that Audacity was a security risk because it was "open source, so anyone could hack it".

    Insanity.

  • We'd like to but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by painandgreed (692585) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:21AM (#32510840)

    My company is ready to migrate once our vendor applications are compatible with Win7. Some won't run. Some haven't been verified by the company to work and our company won't move forward till the bendor says it's ok. Some are web apps that won't work with IE8. They will work in compatibility mode but once again, unless the vendor signs off on that and agrees that they won't corrupt our database or lack features doing such, management does not want to move forward. We're also a hospital and healthcare if involved directly so we don't want to beta test anything. We'd like to move forward to 64 bit Win7, but until ALL the applications we use can, we have to stick with WinXP because they are all used together on the same machines.

    For the record, nobody ever considered Vista. Not us. Not the vendors.

  • 64-Bit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DarkSarin (651985) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:31AM (#32511058) Homepage Journal

    The main reason, in my mind, to upgrade is being able to effectively use 64-bit machines fully--and have more than 4GB of RAM.

    Yes you need new machines to do this, but really, if you are buying NEW machines, you should probably upgrade. The question then becomes a matter of whether or not new machines are worthwhile. Your old machines may be still serviceable, but would newer machines result in getting work done enough faster to offset (even partially) the cost of the upgrade.

    In many cases, the answer is no--a LOT of secretaries & folks that mainly do word processing are better off just staying where they are--their machines are fast enough for what they do, and additional RAM & extra cores aren't going to make a difference.

    That said, if you are doing statistical analysis, engineering, graphic design, programming (and compiling), and a number of other jobs, then you should ABSOLUTELY be on a very aggressive upgrade schedule. Additionally, 8GB of RAM is more than just a good idea for many of those jobs--some of them should be stuffing as MUCH memory as they can into their machines so that they can do their jobs more efficiently.

    In any work setting the bottleneck for employee performance should not be the environment or resources, but rather human capacities. That's the ideal. Obviously cost of achieving that and other considerations prevent most companies from getting to the point where that's true--but it should be the goal.

    So either move to Win7-x64 OR move to another 64-bit OS with lots of power & memory in the hardware. Staying where you are only makes sense if you are doing mostly word processing.

  • by Elektroschock (659467) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:36AM (#32511122)

    What suprised me is that Ubuntu 10.04 feels as good or better as XP. Operating systems do not matter much anymore.

  • Re:1990's? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:38AM (#32511160) Homepage

    And places like Comcast did not migrate to it until the spring of 2006.

    Here we are looking at Migrating AWAY from windows 7. We have had nothing but trouble with customer control hardware and device programming. It's probably due to using the 64 bit version of Windows 7 but Dell does not give you the option to select a 32 bit version with new laptops..

    WE are downgrading field PC's to XP and office PC's are upgrading to Ubuntu with crossover office for Vertical Windows legacy apps. We switched to Open Office 3 years ago when the BSA came knocking and the boss lost his mind over how the BSA fined us for something we were legit but did not have the documentation the BSA wanted.

    Open source is the first choice here and closed source a last resort. It's really refreshing.

  • Oh brother (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:44AM (#32511242)
    Another editor writes an idiotic title??
    Let's answer this simply, since the article has a simple title: "Is it finally time to dump XP?" NO. It's 2010. By your own article's admission support ends in 2014!

    FTFA: "IT departments need to dump Microsoft's Windows XP operating system (OS) before the software vendor ends support for it in April 2014"
    Thanks, Capt. Obvious!
    Also FTFA: "the sooner the better as many new versions of applications are not expected to support XP beyond 2012."
    What applications? Do these people live in the enterprise? Vendor apps are the slowest to migrate to any new OS. That's one of the major reasons why migrations happen so slowly. The other is money. In a down economy you're simply not going to see wholesale adoption of Windows 7 when there's no funding and companies can pull profits from apps that are working now! This is all fun to sit and talk about and kick up some worry but the reality is when you go back to your CIO or IT manager funding will win out. They're going to wait till they get closer to EOL and hope the economy turns around and frankly that's what they should do.
  • Re:Not only... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:54AM (#32511442) Homepage

    Let me guess, you aren't in the IT department, are you?

    My primary role is programming mail merge documents while maintaining all of the document templates we use within Siebel. My secondary role is maintaining validation documentation for new database releases.

    How large is your organization?

    The company as a whole has over 10,000 employees internationally. Our specific business unit, however, is only about 600 people.

    How many folks are working in IT?

    In our business unit, we have about 20 IT people, not including help desk folks. Company wide, we have literally hundreds of IT employees.

    I suspect they are starving the IT department to keep the company afloat,and WinXP SP2 and IE6 may be the most recent they can get from MS - you may not have software that passes Microsoft Genuine Advantage, making IE8 (or maybe even IE7) and SP3 unavailable to you...

    Last year, the company netted $1.8 billion in revenue ($106 million of which came directly from our business unit). That was the best year ever for both the company and our business unit (in fact, our unit won an award for highest year-over-year percentage increase in both income and profit). I think we can afford to upgrade our computers.

  • Re:Pfff... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:55AM (#32511454)

    Boy do I agree with this. There must be a department of "Change for changes sake" at microsoft, and I would like to beat those people with my fists.

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @11:26AM (#32512038)

    The VB6 crap is a stand alone application. It took a dozen programmers about 2 years to write it. It's big. It does a lot. And, I've had to manage projects for updating it so I can say it has a pretty good design.

    When the decision was made to go with VB back in 1999, it was reasonable to assume there would be a VB7 which would mean it would take a few months to rewrite it.

    Instead we got .Net and no upgrade path.

    So this means it would again take half dozen programmers another 2 years to rewrite it (half the programmers due to the good design). Some of the custom controls were written with closed source by companies which haven't existed for closing on a decade now.

    On the other hand, our java order entry system has fared better. While the front end has been replaced with another prettier language, the core business rules continue to chug along.

    Will C# be supported in 10 years? Maybe-- no way to know. Will Java be supported in 10 years-- probably.

    In either case- if we simply buy a package, we don't have to code or maintain anything.

    It's less flexible but an order of magnitude cheaper. We are larger now and no longer need as much flexibility to hold customers since our costs are so much cheaper than all of our competitors. And to be honest, being flexible probably ate up over 100% of the money we made on some customers (I.e. we spent $50k to keep the business of a $40k profit customer).

    Personally, I think there are downsides to the packages BUT we do share development costs with several thousand other companies (and for one of them several tens of thousands) so things like legal compliance become much easier and much less expensive. It really sucks with a brittle old system being told some new law requires changes within 90 days and fully regression testing it takes 21 days alone.

    Java is good for core business rules in my opinion- but anything else, it's no better than several other languages and a bit harder to develop in.

  • Re:1990's? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @11:31AM (#32512130) Homepage

    So that in a few years people don't arrive having never used XP and immediately start cursing at "this stupid system". Little things like the improved taskbar, the window snap and so on all work their way into how you interact and you suddenly feel lost without them.

    Software isn't the problem, people who use 7 at home and don't want to go back to XP at work are.

    That and the fact Vista and 7 don't support IE6. If the OS can't support it, IE6 is dead.

  • by Iyonesco (1482555) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @11:33AM (#32512164)

    Very intuitive? The Windows 7 taskbar is a massive productivity roadblock.

    For example, imagine have multiple instances of the same application open and you wish to switch between instances. In XP each instance has its own button on the task bar (usually with the file you have open written on it) so you simply click on the instance you want. In Windows 7 there's only one button for each application so first you have to click that to bring up some pretty pictures. You then identify which instance you want and click that. That's two clicks instead of one, additional mouse movement and some time faffing around with pretty pictures. How is this an improvement?

    Then there's the situation where you've just started using some new programs and don't know the icons for them. In XP the taskbar buttons have the names of the applications written on them so it's easy to identify your applications. In Windows 7 the taskbar only has abstract icons with no text so if you don't know the icon it can be hard to find your applications. This actually happened to me when using Windows 7 and because I didn't know the icons for some programs I ended up thoroughly pissed of trying to find what I was looking for. How is this an improvement?

    The new taskbar also makes it hard to identify if a program is running (of if it's just a quicklaunch shortcut) and impossible to tell how many instances of an application are running.

    Despite these reductions in the functionality of the taskbar it is now in fact bigger, so uses more desktop real estate to do less.

    Sure, you can switch back to the old taskbar but how long will that last? The old start menu has been removed from Windows 7 so I'm sure the old task bar will probably be gone by Windows 8. Besides, the task bar is only one element of the Windows 7 interface that's thoroughly fucked up.

    If they added the XP desktop environment to Windows 8 then I'd happily upgrade. However, there's no way I'll touch Windows 7 or any subsequent version until they provide a decent user interface.

  • by s31523 (926314) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @11:36AM (#32512216)
    The question of migration is not about staying in the 90's. Ask yourself this, "If it were your money, what would you do?". Your answer would probably be, if you were a successful business, you would look at the cost-benefit of the switch. So, citing training costs is a factor. Another factor might be whether you develop application that run on Windows, or do you just use Windows as development platform at all, or just a casual Business user? In the end, if the switch will cost you (the company) thousands of dollars and you gain nothing, surely you would not want to switch because Microsoft is forcing the switch. From a training perspective, one would want to push off the switch for as long as possible to allow the market (end users) to get the familiarity with the new Windows and Office on their home PCs so that training is minimal at the work place. If you personally upgrade your home PC, which a lot of people will do, and use it for a year or three, when your Office does the switch it (the new Windows) will be old hat, and that means less training on the company dime.
  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @11:36AM (#32512230)
    I am always somewhat mystified by these companies that cite "training" issues when it comes to preparation for upgrading. Sure, some people are a bit thick, but it really isn't that hard to fumble your way around a Windows machine, especially if all you're doing is using a browser and MSOffice.

    If one's staff can't cope with such minor changes, they're umemployable in the first place.
  • Re:Pfff... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @11:37AM (#32512234) Homepage

    The ball isn't any more or less intuitive than why a picture of a floppy disk saves your document. It made sense once, but who uses floppies for saving documents nowadays? It's just become commonplace, much like "Exit" being under the "File" menu. Exiting the application has got absolutely nothing to do with the file.

    That's why when you ran Office 2007 for the first time there was a huge bubble saying "This is the new Office Button. It has things like Save and Print in it."

  • Our Migration plan (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vinn (4370) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @11:46AM (#32512358) Homepage Journal

    Our migration is probably similar to many other companies. Here's what we're doing in case anyone is curious how this roadmap looks in a reasonably sized company (multilocation, etc, etc):

    1. We got our first Win7 system to test a few months ago. We discovered almost everything worked, but our VPN clients should be updated, our AV needed some updating, and really we should be on Office 2010. The nice thing there is we can eradicate Office 2003 once and for all.

    2. So, that really prompts some server upgrades that we've been planning for a while anyway. We're going to consolidate a lot of servers onto VM'ed boxes. Most of our stuff (was) running Server 2003, with the exceptions of our domain controllers which we updated to 2008 last year. Exchange 2010 (from 2003) was planned for a while, so we pulled the trigger on that one. That also prompts an upgrade of BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server) from 4.1 to 5.0. Our asset tracking also needed some attention in order to make sure we don't populate it with garbage when new machines arrive. We're hoping to have Exchange completely migrated by the end of July using a slow migration tactic instead of cutting over in the middle of the night. The goal here is to leave some app servers on 2003 until the new version of MS's server platform comes out, then update to that on an application by application basis.

    3. So.. that means there's a fair amount of work to do before we want to consider replacing the user machines. I suspect most companies are in that boat. I think most companies are itching to replace XP - it's getting pretty tough to maintain these days and pretty outdated. Plus, no (sane) company actually upgrades machines from XP to Win7 - you transition to Win7 when your leases expire or you need to purchase a new desktop/laptop. Upgrading is in no way cost effective. Therefore, based on a lifecycle of 3 - 4 years per machine, we'll see XP still being used for 2 - 3 years at least for light duty.

    Now, the really crazy part? Most suppliers are pushing 32-bit Win7. That means the 32-bit legacy is going to continue to haunt us when we could have transitioned to Win64.

  • Re:64-Bit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Belegothmog (712435) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @12:01PM (#32512662)

    The main reason, in my mind, to upgrade is being able to effectively use 64-bit machines fully-

    This. The main reason to upgrade to Win7 is for 64-bit. Unfortunately, it's also the main reason to put off upgrading. While we haven't had too many issues with software and 64-bit (though there are some), the main problem has been with peripherals. In our IT shop, none of the PC card or USB NICs that we had have a Win7 64-bit driver. Only one of our USB to Serial adapters has a 64-bit driver. A customer has handheld scanners for their warehouse -- no 64-bit driver. Same issues with printer drivers. So in addition to the training and workstation hardware issues related to upgrading to Win7, some companies may have significant issues with drivers for peripheral hardware.

  • by tbannist (230135) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @12:19PM (#32512950)

    The cynic might observe that in many companies the employees are there because they are unemployable elsewhere...

  • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @12:46PM (#32513410)

    CAD tools, lab tools both shrink wrap and otherwise work with XP and they have no plans of upgrading. Some of it is because there's not enough money in it to do so, some of it is because of signed drivers costing a fortune for these tiny shops to produce.

    Then there's inhouse tools which typically require custom device drivers and what not for running low level hardware tests (I work at a large server maker), also which have either API changes at the device level, or which bitch about signed drivers. Yes this can be turned off, but typically we give this stuff off to people who aren't terribly computer literate and it becomes difficult to get things working.

    Windows 7 is fine for goofing off with, certainly way better than Vista, but it's still not ready for prime time.

  • Re:Not only... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedyNO@SPAMtpno-co.org> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @12:48PM (#32513450) Homepage

    Welcome to politics, 101. People aren't going to listen to you, of all people. You are the IT troll.

    So you make friends with the people they will listen to. Eventually, people will realize it's just better to listen to you instead, but until that happens you have to play the game.

  • Re:XP is the 90's? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aqualung812 (959532) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @12:53PM (#32513508)

    Microsoft has simply NOT produced anything better.

    While I agree that most of the marketing and Aero-fluff is useless, there are a few very big improvements I have to point out with Windows 7: -Security is MUCH better than XP. I'm not calling it *nix level or anything, but it is much better. I've seen a huge decrease in spyware infections on Win 7. -Bitlocker is secure, fast and accessible for most users. Again, Truecrypt may be better, but this is a good thing for the OS to have native. -The systems management functions (i.e. power settings controlled by GPO, proper grouping of the event logs, etc) are far superior in Windows 7. I would much rather manage 1000 Win 7 desktops than 250 XP.

  • Re:XP is productive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrgnDancer (137700) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @01:10PM (#32513814) Homepage

    Really? OK, I posted earlier about all the reasons that moving to *nix from Windows is hard, but, well, these are none of them. Every problem you list has at least one often more solutions in the Unix world:

    File sharing: Several options. Assuming all Unix machines, NFS is by far the easiest. As long as all users are authenticating off the same directory their UIDs will match between systems. This is the "go to" Unix file sharing system, but there's other options. You can use Samba of course, and there's a few nifty distributed file systems out there that are starting to get mature. The first two options will work on any Unix system including Macs. The distributed solutions are spottier in what they support, being often new.

    Centralized Login: Two major solutions. LDAP and NIS+. LDAP is by far the more modern and and scalable, though it can be slightly tricky to set up. Very slightly, nothing any half competent admin can't figure out. Original NIS is also an option, but is getting long in the tooth and has some security problems. Macs are perfectly capable of using LDAP, and I assume NIS as well, though I've never tried

    Policy management: This is a little less defined in the Unix world than it is in Windows, but still manageable. Most of these policies are managed by various text files in Unix, so what I typically do is run a script when I first install them to set everything the way I want it. In the unlikely event I need to make a change I just change one system and propagate it to all the others. I have a script that copies a file where ever it needs to go on every machine in the network. You can also automate this through rsync though I've never personally bothered to set this up. I've never run a network complicated enough to really need it. The hard part here is if you have a heterogeneous Unix environment, since nearly all Unix's insist on using different files and different syntax to manage this stuff. I'll admit this is a slightly weak area, but definitely manageable.

    Update Management: It's trivial to setup a local repository for any *nix repository system I am aware of. Setup you client to update to the local repository and test updates before you put them on the repo server.

    Mostly this stuff is trivial in Unix/Mac environments. When I manage heterogeneous networks my problem is usually getting the Windows boxes to play nice with everyone else. Unix and Mac machines will all happily share files and directory data with each other, even across different OS's and hardware platforms, while the Windows boxes insist on playing their own little game. Samba helps with file sharing, but getting everyone to log in against the same network shared directory is an undertaking and a half.

  • Re:Not only... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by teg (97890) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @01:16PM (#32513900) Homepage

    This user can't upgrade from XP/IE6:My primary role is programming mail merge documents while maintaining all of the document templates we use within Siebel

    Based on my experience with the evil that is Siebel and applications built on top of it using ActiveX, I would guess that this a big reason why. It's not just replacing machines, it's all the servers and applications in the department that needs to change too. Now that Oracle has bought it and want you to use their own CRM, changing this will be a gigantic and extremely costly proposition.

  • Re:Not only... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @01:26PM (#32514026) Homepage

    We decided to migrate to Siebel almost 5 years ago because of the awesome reporting we can do on the back end for our clients (we were previously using Lotus Notes, which from a reporting standpoint is about as useful as tits on a bull.) We have actually had pretty good success with it from a client satisfaction perspective as well as a productivity perspective...but, as you pointed out, it is likely the reason we are still stuck with XP and IE6.

  • by oh-dark-thirty (1648133) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @01:54PM (#32514464)
    But you only needed a forklift for the mainframe itself, usually the terminals stayed put. Migrating to Win7 from XP pretty much demands a client hardware refresh along with whatever ERP/WMS/CRM bloatware you're upgrading, so you might want to order an extra forklift for moving the pallets of desktops boxes that will be delivered. Of course, any thin-client+VM visionaries are a leg up.
  • by HikingStick (878216) <z01riemerNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @02:09PM (#32514672)
    In addition, in specialty environments (e.g., some manufacturing shops), you're often constrained by what your other software vendors and equipment providers will support. A number of our key tools (e.g., 3D CAD) support Windows 7, but we have many legacy tools that only run on XP (or earlier environments!). In some cases, vendors are only supporting newer OSes if we also upgrade the machines that are tethered to the workstations--that means it's not as simple as buying a new PC and a new version of software, but instead could mean a $200,000.00 investment in a manufacturing device that will again be tethered to a specific build of Windows.
  • by nsafreak (523874) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @02:28PM (#32514902)
    I work at a Fortune 250 company that many slashdotters would recognize if I put out the name. Our IT department has been planning the rollout of Windows 7 for quite a while now and it's going to take time simply because of the amount of testing that has to be done. They have to make sure all of the applications that we use on a regular basis (some of which are built internally) work fine with the new operating system and work as expected. Then they have to make sure all of our hardware is compatible. When you have tens of thousands of workstations that's a lot of hardware to check. Yes there is desktop standardization to a degree but even then you have those users that have to have a custom piece of hardware for their job that isn't in other configurations. Frankly right now is about the time most companies need to start a migration plan if they haven't already. It won't be too much longer before Microsoft stops supporting XP entirely and no longer issues any security patches. And having an operating system like Windows XP operating unpatched is definitely not a good thing.
  • Re:XP is the 90's? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Abcd1234 (188840) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @02:45PM (#32515124) Homepage

    And from a user perspective, integrated indexing is *very* nice, the new Start menu is a vast improvement (quick access to integrated search, and application-specific recent documents lists are both very very nice), the ability to customize libraries is long overdue, the new explorer interface is, IMHO, much improved (not the least of which, the fact that the explorer shell doesn't hang up whilst in the middle of file operations)...

    Granted, much of this was present in Vista, too, but it was such a shitshow in general that the improvements were overshadowed. Win7 brings all the aforementioned advances along from Vista while polishing up the experience substantially.

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @03:00PM (#32515320)

    Not to be disagreeable but patches have already disabled one part of the software. That's how we became aware of this risk.

    Also, Microsoft has told us they do not test all combinations and possibilities- it's unsupported. And support is $50k+$100k+$150k+(x+$50k/year) so even for a multi-billion dollar corporation, support is practically non-existent.

    If they change some sort of DLL for a current software, they do not warranty that it won't have a side effect on the VB6 application.

    What you are saying may be true for smaller VB6 programs but this is a monster with lots of external DLLs, controls, etc.

  • by jonadab (583620) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @03:06PM (#32515410) Homepage Journal
    > Sure, you can switch back to the old taskbar

    Actually, you can't. You can configure the new one to do certain things a little more like the old one (e.g., you can get it to group windows only when necessary, instead of whenever possible), but you can't get back the stationary launcher icons you had in Windows 98 and XP. Every time a window opens or closes, your launchers slide to a different place on the bar, and as far as I can tell there's nothing you can do to fix this.

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