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Windows XP At 10: No Life Support

Businesses that have not begun the Windows 7 transition may find themselves scrambling, Microsoft says.
A Microsoft official said the company has no plans to extend Windows XP's looming retirement date in order to give companies whose business systems run on the aging OS more time to migrate to a newer version of Windows--and that could be a problem for those who have yet to begin the transition.

"There's absolutely no chance" that Windows XP's April, 2014 end-of-life date, when Microsoft will end all support, will be extended, said Rich Reynolds, general manager for Windows Commercial marketing, in an interview.

Windows XP officially turned 10 years old on Tuesday. Microsoft introduced the software back in 2001, following development under the code name Whistler. It featured numerous enhancements compared to its most immediate predecessor, Windows 2000. XP introduced a streamlined, task-based user interface that allowed users to more quickly find their go-to applications and files through the Start Menu or lockable Taskbar.

That, along with improvements to power management, faster startup, new networking features like Internet Connection Sharing, and a general reputation for stability, made XP Microsoft's most enduring enterprise OS to date.

[ Will Windows 8 PCs lock out Linux users? See Windows 8 Secure Boot Fears Continue. ] In fact, it may have been too successful for Redmond's liking. The company has had difficulty getting customers to upgrade to newer versions of Windows. Only a handful of enterprises moved to the widely-panned Windows Vista and it's only now, two years after its release, that businesses are starting to adopt Windows 7 in significant numbers.

About 25% of all currently deployed enterprise systems are now running Windows 7, though 90% of businesses have a plan to migrate the OS, according to Reynolds.

Reynolds said he's worried that businesses that have not begun the Windows 7 transition may find themselves scrambling as XP's expiration date draws near. "What we're concerned about is organizations that haven't started yet," he said. Aircraft manufacturer Boeing, which began upgrading its 187,000 employee desktops to Windows 7 last year, won't have the rollout finished until next year, said Reynolds.

"It takes anywhere from twelve to fourteen months to do the planning and application remediation," he said.

Microsoft is offering a number of tools to help business plan and execute the move from Windows XP to Windows 7. Its Springboard Series on its online Technet forum provides numerous resources to help enterprise IT managers plan the switch. And its Application Compatibility Toolkit, available as a download, is a server-based tool designed to spot compatibility issues that might hinder the upgrade.

Reynolds said very few organizations are planning to move directly from XP to Windows 8, which won't arrive until sometime next year and features a new, Metro-style interface borrowed from Windows Phone.