Understanding the Business Impact of Windows XP Migration Plans

Understanding the Business Impact of Windows XP Migration Plans

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For the last several months, we’ve been talking about the importance of migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7. Much of the discussion has focused on the two year countdown for end of support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014, however, we have also pointed out that Windows XP is over a decade old – two generations behind Microsoft’s current product technology and will soon be three generations behind. These two aspects are valid points for demonstrating the risks for customers who stay on Windows XP, and we recommend customers also take a look at the compelling business incentives to develop and implement a migration strategy to Windows 7.

This week, we sponsored a whitepaper issued by analyst firm IDC that analyzes the risks, user productivity costs and IT labor costs associated with businesses running Windows XP versus Windows 7. The study interviewed nine large organizations that have deployed both Windows XP and Windows 7, and used the content of those interviews to quantify both the IT and end user costs of not migrating to Windows 7. The “productivity costs” were measured for end users on metrics of lost time due to virus or malware attacks, reimaging, rebooting, downtime, and help desk requests/needs. Cost components for IT included upgrading PCs, security-related activities, deploying apps, patch management, help desk service, and several other metrics. IDC’s conclusion: “Organizations that continue to retain a Windows XP environment not only are leaving themselves exposed to security risks and support challenges, but also are waiting budget dollars that would be better used in modernizing their IT investments.”

Many of the companies still running Windows XP contend that it’s a solution that still “works” in their environment. “Works” however, could mean these customers are missing out on the benefits of a more modern operating system including dramatic savings, higher user productivity and a more valued IT department.

Staying on Windows XP is an expensive investment when Windows 7 provides dramatic savings.

IDC found that the base IT and end user labor costs of continuing to support Windows XP is now approximately five times as much as the cost of running Windows 7. That’s a significant amount of money IT shops could put towards modernizing their departments and adding value to the businesses.

In addition, IDC found the longer you wait, the pricier supporting Windows XP gets: IT labor costs go up 25 percent in the fourth year of continuing to run Windows XP past deadline, and user productivity suffers as well, with an increased cost of 23 percent. In the fifth year, IT labor increases by an additional 29 percent, and user productivity costs jump up a staggering 40 percent.

A modern workspace means more productive users and a more valued IT department.

Organizations realized amazing productivity gains over the status quo when they first implemented Windows XP, but technology has advanced and Windows 7 can support much more, including integrated WiFi and Bluetooth, faster and better performing hardware and new improved UI. Additionally, IDC found that the single largest component in loss of productivity in downtime-related activities is the help desk operation, accounting for more than half of downtime-related time support. Not far behind is resolving downtime issues, which account for a little of a third of the total time spent by IT in supporting Windows XP. Those metrics can be reduced by up to 84 percent through a move to Windows 7.

An IT department that can stay ahead of modern technology developments immediately proves its value to business decision-makers and end users, as IDC notes: “By proactively encouraging the use of modern technology, the IT department is seen as being interested in improving the productivity of users. End users feel empowered to accomplish their jobs with modern tools that improve their productivity and eliminate wasted time resulting from poorly-performing old technology, unnecessary application crashes and operating system reboots.”

Windows 7 provides clear ROI and prepares businesses for the future.

The bottom line: IDC’s research finds businesses that migrate from Windows XP to Windows 7 will see significant return on investment over 130 percent over a three-year period. Moreover, Windows 7 gives businesses back hours of user productivity. Additionally, migrating now to Windows 7 will set businesses up well to embrace Windows 8 in the future, as IDC found that all indications at this time are that the move from Windows 7 to Windows 8 will be seamless for applications and non-impactful to existing hardware.

I hope that you found this information helpful and I invite you to take a look at full IDC White Paper results and methodology, so that you can use the findings to help make the business case to your organization to move to Windows 7. And when you are ready to move, remember that we offer you many tools and resources to help with a smooth migrate to Windows 7.

Tools and Resources to Help with Migration

  • The Springboard Series on Technet includes a lot of great in-depth advice to help you with your deployments.
  • Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) can be used to help accelerate your deployments.
  • The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) products include Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) to simplify BitLocker Drive Encryption provisioning and provide compliance reporting that can help you quickly determine the status of the entire organization.
  • Also consider Windows Intune, which offers PC management and security via the cloud, plus upgrade rights to the latest version of Windows – a great solution for companies that have groups of lightly managed or non-managed PCs.
  • You can also make the move to Office 365 and get familiar Microsoft Office collaboration and productivity tools delivered through the cloud. Everyone can work together easily with anywhere access to email, web conferencing, documents and calendars.

Please continue to check back for the latest Windows news as well as deployment guidance.

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  • Mark
    5 Posts

    Although updates need to be done, the white-paper seems to gloss over the costs associated with the move and change in support, many of which can be quite significant and require thought and planning on the part of management.

    such as:

    replacement hardware may be required, example: Dell does not support Win7 on the GX620

    Ghost-style build processes do not work with Win7 (due to SID changes) and must be replaced by sysprep/AIK ( a whole new system that is quite complex especially when multi-casting is required)

    Win7 cannot be locked down adequately by server 2003 domain GPO's, requiring a domain upgrade to at least hybrid mode and then a complete revisit of the corporate GPO's

    Server2003 Print Servers will not distribute Win7 print drivers, necessating upgrades of print servers to server 2008 in most cases.

    While Win7 has many great user-interface changes, the support-level changes can be daunting and will require retraining support staff on changes in support procedures - examples just for profiles: processes for bulk deletion of old profiles no longer work under 7, changes to roaming profiles - particularly during the interim when both environments are in place and users are moving from one environment to another, requiring sysprep to modify the "default profile", etc.

    many customized scripts need to be located and revisited due to the change in location of objects (c:\documents and settings to c:\users, c:\program files versus c:\program Files (x86), etc.

    The end result is a better environment but the migration can be a daunting task for overworked IT staff to consider.

  • jader3rd
    24 Posts


    You could just download a different File Manager for your Windows 7 machines. That way you could get views of the files which don't auto sort (and thereby make it more difficult to find files), and you can get all of the savings of Windows 7.

  • Drew
    19 Posts

    Our company is in the state of converting, with new computers distributed with Windows 7 installed and old ones running XP waiting for the opportunity to upgrade.  We should be all converted by maybe next year (or the next).

    It took a while for Windows 7 to get the "sign off" to start coming into the office, and we are a small (22 persons) office so it isn't like a massive roll-out, but it is still an expensive roll-out with either new computers or just new licenses (and time to upgrade).

  • xpclient
    50 Posts

    @Erwin, I would gladly upgrade if it wasn't for issues like this: social.msdn.microsoft.com/.../27314d0a-9c70-4b79-93e7-23fe60e7e374 This is a violation of basic usability/human computer interaction rules in Windows 7. As long as this issue is ignored by Microsoft and a hotfix not prepared to make automatic sorting optional in Windows Explorer, I have no plans to upgrade my PCs from Windows XP Professional. I will continue to run it past its lifecycle. To me, having the most productive file management experience is important and Windows 7 does not provide me that. If you can forward this feedback to the relevant team (the Windows shell team), maybe they can approve a Design Change Request to prepare a hotfix which optionally lets you disable auto sort and auto arrange in Explorer. Or maybe in Service Pack 2 for Windows 7. Already, hundreds of customers are asking about returning this functionality to Explorer in Microsoft's forums. Saying "this is by design" and refusing to create a hotfix will keep Windows 7 off limits to XP customers affected by this issue in Windows 7/Vista.

  • T Windows
    116 Posts


    Thanks for your post; this is an excellent review on the outcome measures for companies currently supporting the XP platform.

    While we are pretty sure that the majority of businesses worldwide have already transitioned to 7; the hard fact still remains that there are several companies in the mix that have yet to even prepare.

    I will do my part in sharing this valued information and scenario findings with local businesses, and agencies associated with our company.


    I have to agree with you on first hand experiences as an IT professional, it’s goes without saying -making the decision to upgrade will drastically change the work efforts for businesses abroad.

    You highlighted some key areas in your post that will identify with consumers as well as business professionals alike.

    Thanks again to Erwin for the post.

    - Stay Powered by Windows

  • But why take it from Microsoft? Take it from an actual IT administrator... it's faster and more stable, it's a usability dream come true (pinning and snapping are great usability enhancements for end users and power users alike), it has considerably more security safeguards against malware (with IE9 and Security Essentials), and it's a whole lot easier to support. And here's another factor to consider... get Windows 7 now, because Windows 8 is right around the corner, and it's frankly-- unproven. I'm using the Consumer Preview of 8 now and have very mixed feelings on it. Windows 7 was a blessing from the first boot. Upgrade now to the most best version of WINDOWS ever made before it becomes something that's not really Windows. (BTW, in spite of the tongue-in-cheek nature of this post, I'm very serious... Windows 7 is fantastic, and I'm very nervous about the success of Windows 8 on traditional PC platforms.)