Support for Windows XP will cease in April next year, although the OS still accounts for as much as one quarter of all desktop PC operating systems. At the same time,
"However, the majority of users are either consumers or small business users, with the proportion of Windows 8 PCs within medium and large enterprises being below five to seven percent and predominantly used on tablets or new form factors," says
Jump explains that this is because larger organisations prefer to manage the deployment of new versions of Windows, and may even choose to skip a software generation/version to manage resources, cost and training. Even so, she highlights that many are gearing up for user generated Windows 8 needs and are open to exploring the potential fit and issues that may arise.
But for those enterprises still running XP it's now fairly pressing that they put plans into place, as
"Attackers will have an advantage over defenders who continue to run Windows XP. After April, when we release monthly security updates for supported versions of Windows, attackers will try and reverse engineer them to identify any vulnerabilities that also exist in Windows XP. If they succeed, they will have the capability to develop exploit code to take advantage of them," he wrote on a
To mitigate the risk of cyber threats and protect IT infrastructure it is strongly recommended that businesses migrate away from Windows XP, but for the few that choose to stay put there are some options.
For example Arkoon is offering a lifeline to those still using Windows XP. Working with its distributor
In addition to real-time identifying and stopping attacks against
But what are the options available to those who want to migrate? Of course
"The new enterprise operating system brings together everything that a business would need on a day-to-day basis, including new mobile apps to promote efficiency, Office productivity tools, searching and browsing, and the ability to access data from anywhere, helping to facilitate the increasing mobility of today's work force," she notes. "The Windows 8 experience is supported across all devices, including tablets, notebooks and high-performance workstations," she adds.
Even so, many organisations have been reticent to make the move to Windows 8 and there have been mixed views. Those that tried it out liked the aesthetics and potential to integrate better with existing Windows enterprise management tools. Many, however, disliked the higher hardware costs, dual UI and felt it had no merits without touch devices.
"With the new Windows 8.1 enterprise solution, it is now possible to manage personal devices in an organisation, utilise investments in the enterprise infrastructure, and enhance the security of the IT environment… it is even further personalised to ensure that organisations, and individuals, can ensure the system works for them in the most efficient way," Murray notes.
There is another migration option for those that want a change from Windows however: switching to a virtualised desktop infrastructure. Instead of automatically going ahead with a Windows 7 or 8 upgrade, businesses could conserve IT budgets through virtualised desktops and applications, which can cut administration costs and centralise control.
"Transition presents several possible challenges if businesses take the traditional upgrade route: it can take many months to load new software onto thousands of individual endpoints as organisations spend time and resources to test, integrate and install the new OS. Many user PCs may need to be upgraded or replaced to support new requirements for memory and processing power. Finally, many organisations, such as those in the financial services industry, have a host of legacy applications that may prove to be incompatible with a new operating system — yet vital to particular job roles," highlights
"Desktop and application virtualisation are obvious strategies to overcome these challenges. Instead of working through hundreds or thousands of individual PCs, IT simply installs a single image in the data centre, and then uses that across the organisation. Patches and updates benefit similarly from the single, centralised image. And because the operating system runs in the data centre rather than on the endpoint, there is no need to upgrade user hardware; the same machine used to run Vista, or even Windows XP, will be more than adequate," he notes.
"The cost of using a centralised desktop virtualisation solution to migrate users to Windows 8 can save organisations up to 40% of costs associated with migration. Simplifying ongoing desktop management and updates can lower the total cost of ownership by about 50%."
In EMEA, companies such as SUSE are seeing a growing adoption of open source desktop solutions as another alternative to using Windows.
"A way out of this vendor lock-in can be found in an open source-based desktop solution," says
"Furthermore, ongoing development by the worldwide open source community ensures high-level security and state-of-the-art technology. In addition, the SUSE desktop comes bundled with dozens of leading applications at no extra cost and with a full office productivity suite, including word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and database applications, which are compatible with Microsoft Office files," he notes.
The industry decides
ACN spoke with several IT management professionals in the region to find out what's going on at ground level. For many the plan is to migrate to, or stick with Windows 7. Many feel that there's currently no real benefit to making the move to Windows 8, plus they want to keep costs down.
"Our plan is to stay on Windows 7 for now," he says. "We use Windows 7 Professional and also Windows XP Professional in some of our outlets. Our plan is to migrate them gradually to Windows 7 when the systems are brought in for maintenance."
It's a similar story at
For many choosing Windows 7 over 8 is a matter of choosing a secure, well-established option that is more likely to run smoothly.
"Windows 7 will remain there for some time as
Of the four companies ACN spoke with, there was one now testing the waters of Windows 8. Currently running Windows XP and 7,
"Windows 8 represents the biggest change to
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