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IT Pros Surveyed on Windows XP Migration Problems

A survey commissioned by VMware found that the move from Windows XP to Windows 7 has entailed weekend work for IT pros and downtime for end users.

The Web survey was conducted in January by Dimensional Research using its IT pro database. It polled 322 desktop administrators involved with moving end users off Windows XP to Windows 7. The study isn't published, but VMware reported the results late last week in this blog post.

The January polling results found that many companies had already started their moves off Windows XP but had not yet completed them.

For instance, acccording to those involved in the survey, there were 64 percent of enterprises (more than 5,000 employees) that had not moved off Windows XP, although half (50 percent) of those respondents said their Windows XP migrations were "in process." About half of midsize companies (1,000 to 5,000 employees) in the survey still had not moved off Windows XP, but the 43 percent of those respondents also indicated that had such efforts in motion. Lastly, 61 percent of small-to-medium businesses (100 to 1,000 employees) in the survey had not migrated, although 44 percent of those respondents likewise indicated that they had such moves in process.

Those numbers are likely fairly high, given that respondents were polled at least three months ago, and it might be expected that those migrations would be completed by now.

Almost half (47 percent) of IT pros in the survey said that they had put in some weekend work or worked evenings (44 percent) to get the migration work done. Despite those efforts, 49 percent of the IT pro respondents indicated that end users experienced downtime during the Windows XP migration process. IT pros also reported seeing problems with applications that would not work with Windows 7 after the migration, with 38 percent of respondents reporting that problem.

Most of the respondents were using the "free tools from Microsoft" to carry out the Windows XP migrations. Microsoft's main free tool for that purpose is its Windows User State Migration Tool, but the survey didn't poll the specific tools used. Respondents indicated less satisfaction when using Microsoft's tools for migration compared with new tools.

"We saw the lowest amount of complaints when they purchased new tools, which probably makes a lot of sense because they probably bought something specific for their OS migration," said Betty Junod, director of desktop product marketing for end-user computing at VMware, in a phone interview. She noted that that large enterprises experienced the greatest lag in getting Windows XP migrations accomplished and that IT pros were working overtime to get the job done.

"It was interesting to see the great lengths that people were going to -- IT organizations were going to -- in the off hours," she said. "All of this extra credit work to make sure that users weren't impacted."

Problems with tools included losing data or finding out that some applications did not work after the migration. There were 29 percent of respondents that said they had lost data using Microsoft's tools vs. 11 percent that said they lost data using the newly purchased tools. Similarly, 27 percent using Microsoft's tools reported that applications did not work after migration vs. 10 percent using newly purchased tools.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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