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Q&A With Greg Shields: Windows Migration

Up next in my series of Q&A blog posts is contributing editor and columnist Greg Shields, who also happens to be a senior partner and principal technologist with Concentrated Technology.

Ahead of Greg's busy speaker schedule at this year's TechMentor, he took some time to discuss the benefits of migrating to the newest version of Windows OS.

Q: What's your advice for shops still using Windows XP with Windows 8 on the horizon? Many don't want to move at all because they know how to fix all the common problems with Windows XP and have older peripherals.
A: Stop fighting forward progress. In an apples-to-apples comparison, Windows 7 will beat Windows XP every time in terms of security. Furthering that issue should be the realization that Microsoft will no longer support Windows XP in a few short months, which means no updates when vulnerabilities are found. IT professionals still fighting the upgrade are not only doing their businesses a disservice, they're being negligent of their duties.

Q: What do you say to those who want to skip from Windows XP to Windows 8? Microsoft wants them to go to Windows 7 first. Is there a technical reason for this or is this all just licensing revenue?
A: That's a tough one to provide guidance for right now. There's plenty of data -- both successes and lessons learned -- on the Windows 7 platform. There's nowhere near the same for Windows 8. A move from Windows XP to Windows 8 will be riskier, but the reward also potentially bigger, at least in terms of length of service.

Q: What tools make moving to Windows 7 simpler?
A: Plenty, ranging from no-cost to for-cost, and they're all incredibly mature. Even free solutions from Microsoft are worthy of a look by businesses from small to enterprise. These days, they're just that good.

Q: How do I make noncompliant software work? Should I?
A: Potentially, if it makes good business sense. In fact, a fairly strong reason to embrace System Center -- and particularly System Center Configuration Manager -- is for its excellent software-metering feature. With that in place, you can determine exactly how much those noncompliant applications are actually being used. If they're still in use, the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit delivers a framework for "shimming" bad apps into functionality.

Q: Does running Windows XP software in a virtual machine add to my security exposure?
A: That's a loaded question, but I'll answer it like this: It's little different than running Windows XP software on a physical machine.

Q: How do I make expensive, perfectly functional printers and such work in Windows 7 when there are no new drivers? Should I really just dump them all?
A: These questions make me wonder, "Seriously?" Here's a fact: Windows Vista was released on Jan. 30, 2007. That's more than five-and-a-half years ago. Nearly every printer driver that works with Windows Vista also works with Windows 7. If you're still using printers that are that old and your manufacturer has already sunset their support, isn't there an argument that they're not "perfectly functional printers"? Are you instead creating a risk for your business by relying on equipment that's long past its manufacturer lifecycle support? I'll argue you are, and that -- as before -- you're not saving your business money. You're doing your business a disservice, and being negligent of your duties.

Want to learn more? Greg will be speaking at our Techmentor 2012 conference, being held at Microsoft HQ in August.

Posted by Doug Barney on 07/10/2012 at 1:19 PM


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