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Does Windows 7's Arrival Mean XP's End of Days?

Doug is traveling today, so filling in for him once again is Online News Editor Kurt Mackie.

Windows 7 hits the streets on Thursday, and some retail stores will be open at midnight tonight to let the teeming hordes get their hands on boxed copies of the OS, as well as new PCs running it.

But let's face it: That's the general public that's been watching those Kylie TV ads. IT pros are a different, tougher breed, unimpressed by the ease of taking pictures of pet fish and transferring them to your PC. Windows 7 means hard work ahead: app compatibility testing, hardware assessments, deployment planning, image packaging, migration and management. Does that spell excitement...or dread?

It turns out that the IT pro crowd was particularly unmoved by the last big Microsoft OS splash, namely Vista. IT organizations ignored Vista in droves and continued to run XP, such that 79 percent of PCs running in organizations today run XP, according to a Forrester report.

Forrester is warning IT pros that their days of resisting the Microsoft OS refresh cycle are coming to an end. Like some cataclysmic apocalypse, support for the venerable XP will eventually come to a close, and then IT personnel will be judged -- maybe by a bad job performance rating, or something, if things go awry.

Those preparing for doom need a date, and Forrester gladly provides it. It's "the end of 2012" -- that's when organizations should be off XP to avoid app compatibility issues, Forrester says. Those poor IT souls not heeding such advice face additional torments, such as the end of the security patch delivery cycle. On April 8, 2014, no more security patches will be issued by Microsoft for XP.

If all of the neat features in Windows 7 haven't convinced you to move off XP, maybe fear will. And maybe you'll want to buy a little Software Assurance while you're at it. The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) is a set of tools that's one of the perks to Software Assurance licensees. It contains MED-V, which lets large organizations continue to run legacy apps while also centrally managing those apps. In fact, Microsoft just announced that MDOP 2009 R2 has just been released to its volume licensing customers.

Even high Microsoft officials tend to downplay Windows 7, suggesting that OS upgrades will happen with the PC refresh cycle, rather than, say, tomorrow. But really, won't you repent for ignoring Vista and just upgrade to Windows 7? Confess your OS migration plans to Doug at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Kurt Mackie on 10/21/2009 at 1:17 PM


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