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10/21/2012
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XP To Windows 8? Why It's Best To Wait

As Microsoft launches its highly-anticipated new OS this week, experts say IT pros should focus on Windows 7 upgrades--and watch for Windows 8 tablets to walk through the enterprise front door.

8 Key Differences Between Windows 8 And Windows RT
8 Key Differences Between Windows 8 And Windows RT
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
With more than half of all enterprises not having fully transitioned to Windows 7 and a good number still on Windows XP, IT managers face a tough call when Microsoft formally rolls out Windows 8 later this week--continue on to Win7, or jump straight to Windows 8?

There is lots to consider. Windows 7 has a solid track record, but Windows 8 offers new and improved features like Secure Boot security and Windows To Go portability. One thing is certain. Whether they choose Windows 7 or Windows 8, enterprises need to get off XP as quickly as possible. Microsoft will discontinue support for the decade-old OS in 2014.

"Paying Microsoft for Windows XP support after [formal] support ends is going to get expensive," said Gartner analyst Mike Silver.

Silver, along with most experts, users, and even Microsoft itself believe that the most prudent upgrade path for enterprises is to move from XP to Windows 7 on corporate desktops, while allowing road warriors the freedom to use Windows 8 Professional on tablets.

"Windows 7 has been shipping for three years," said Silver. "It's mature, the vendors support it, there are lots of good skills for Windows 7. A company that has made little or no progress on Windows 7 over the past three years is highly unlikely to be able to take a brand new operating system and deploy it for all users before XP support ends."

[ Here is one reason to consider Windows 8. Read Windows 8 Beats The Mac, Appsolutely. ]

Moving from XP to Windows 8 would also burden users--and help desks--with additional training requirements. Windows 8 represents the biggest overhaul of Windows since Windows 95. It dispenses with familiar tools like the Start menu, in favor of the Live Tiles interface and Modern UI. Windows 8 offers the option to run the more familiar Windows Explorer desktop, but even that contains significant changes from previous versions.

XP to Windows 7 is, in fact, the path that the vast majority of enterprises has taken, or will take. Silver estimated that 20% to 30% of large companies have completed the transition to Windows 7, while 60% are "well underway." A survey conducted in September by ThinkEquity LLC found that 37% of enterprises are fully on Windows 7, while 45% are in the process of upgrading. A recent InformationWeek survey of IT pros found that 47% have no plans to upgrade to Windows 8, while 64% will stick with Windows 7 for as long as possible.

chart: Do you plan to upgrade to Windows 8?

"We're not looking to jump the gun on Windows 8," said Jeremy Mlazovsky, IT director for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Dayton. Mlazovsky manages about 800 faculty and staff Windows PCs at the school, and most have been upgraded from XP to Windows 7.

His concern about Windows 8 is that key security and networking tools won't be available for the OS at launch. "One thing that will determine when we move to Windows 8 will be when a lot of the third-party software that we rely on will be ready," said Mlazovsky. He cited Novell's iPrint and other apps as examples of key software that lacks Windows 8 support. "We're a Novell shop," he said.

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AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/22/2012 | 5:12:16 PM
re: XP To Windows 8? Why It's Best To Wait
Well written article indeed.
jvanbeek
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jvanbeek,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/22/2012 | 8:21:11 PM
re: XP To Windows 8? Why It's Best To Wait
"One thing is certain. Whether they choose Windows 7 or Windows 8, enterprises need to get off XP as quickly as possible. Microsoft will discontinue support for the decade-old OS in 2014." That sounds wrong. It says take your time. You have over a year before you need to worry about this!
jimbo0117
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jimbo0117,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/23/2012 | 7:50:25 PM
re: XP To Windows 8? Why It's Best To Wait
As I recall, all of the industry Microsoft haters were predicting the exact same thing about adoption of XP when it was first introduced. A lot they know!
dlevi481
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dlevi481,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/25/2012 | 2:00:08 PM
re: XP To Windows 8? Why It's Best To Wait
fool me once (98, NT) shame on you; fool me twice (Vista) shame on me; fool me thrice (Win8)...lock me up!
Graw-_@
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Graw-_@,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 5:54:44 PM
re: XP To Windows 8? Why It's Best To Wait
"Windows 8 offers new and improved features like Secure Boot security "

I wouldn't call this an improved feature. This is one reason why I'll never use windows 8. I like being able to do what I wish with my computer.
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