Tips for Upgrading from XP

On April 8, Microsoft announced the end of Windows XP support. Organizations and individuals alike are planning for an upgrade to a newer version of Windows.

Here are a couple of “gotcha’s” that have befallen others and tips to avoid them.

Be sure to evaluate your hardware environment.  Is everything compatible with the newer version of Windows? Do any PCs or devices need to be upgraded? Look all over the place. If there are old machines lying around that boot into Windows XP, you should count these, too. Either get rid of them (and make sure the hard drive is disposed of properly) or put them on your list of machines to upgrade. To spot-check a machine’s compatibility, right-click “My Computer” and click the “Properties” option. More information on technical requirements here.

Also, evaluate your software. Get a COMPLETE list of applications (including version numbers) needed by users within your organization and contact the vendors to ensure compatibility. More importantly: test, test, test. You’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t be surprised) at the number of compatibility issues that can crop up. It’s more than just asking a support engineer, “Will this work on Windows 7?” The last thing you want is to find out that your business-critical payroll app doesn’t behave like it’s supposed to in the new environment. Granted, over the last four years most vendors will have updated their applications for compatibility with Windows, so this issue is less likely with Windows 7. However, Windows 8 is newer and may require more diligent testing. Trust me when I say that there’s no such thing as too much testing.

Upgrading from Windows XP requires a clean install. In other words: the process doesn’t bring your files and apps over automatically. Microsoft recently announced that it would make PCMover Express for Windows XP (by Laplink) available for free. This tool transfers not only selected folders (or all of them) but also user profiles and even settings from your old PC. This version comes with 24/7 support; however, it will not migrate your applications.  For large-scale deployments, there are multiple enterprise versions available.

For the actual installation, many organizations leverage Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager and System Center Operations Manager to package and push the software out to all PCs. Of course, there will be outliers (remember that thing I said about testing above?), but this method works on most machines.

Upgrading your business from XP to one of the newer Windows platforms can be a daunting task, but it should not scare you. Coming late to the party has its advantages, too – there are literally thousands of articles out there to assist you, not to mention the “best practices” Microsoft has released.  

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