Time to Play “Beat the Clock” with Windows XP as End of Support Nears

It’s April 9, 2014. The “day after.” Is it the end of the world as we know it? Most likely not, but it will be the beginning of a painful stretch for enterprises that still have Windows XP running in their environments since Microsoft will have ended all support for Windows XP on that date. Gartner estimates more than 15% of mid to large size organizations will still have Windows XP running on at least 10% of their PCs on the day after.  This may not appear to be significant, but a recent survey by TechRepublic shows that 52% of respondents still say they are running Windows XP on over 50% of their enterprise PCs, which is only an 11% decrease from 2012.

Why are So Many Companies Struggling to Get Rid of Windows XP?

Typically, the XP elimination project, because that’s what it is about, is initiated by the IT department as a technology refresh. Goals are limited, as is executive support and budget. IT organizations know how to build an image, test and package apps, and deploy computers. They estimate the project using technical data, which lacks business context, and guesswork. Working backwards from what they think they need on deploy day an aspirational plan is created and work starts.

The Further You Go, The Harder It Gets

It might take quite a while to realize you’re heading into uncharted waters. Preparing an image, applications, and deployment infrastructure, along with supporting logistics, is going to be IT centric, so progress will be made. Status reports will be green, right up to the day they turn red. Things get complicated when IT has to engage the business. The business often has different requirements and expectations than IT, and because they weren’t engaged from the start gaps in expectations are going to be large and difficult to overcome.

From my experience I have seen many organizations make it through the first 50% of their deployments. The bad news is that this is most likely the easy 50%. Things get progressively more complicated in the back half and the projects begin to slow down dramatically or even come to a halt. Naturally, organizations prioritize those most ready to deploy first. These will be users with simple requirements such as limited numbers of well-known apps, and are from large groups that can be force fed the migration date.

It’s a Business Change Program, Not a Technology Implementation

Organizations need to ask themselves how they’re prepared to address the complexity of their remaining deployments. Diversity of apps will be high, which means each app prepared needs to be carefully chosen to unlock the largest number of ready users – this is where you need accurate data to model the benefit of doing one app before another. Scheduling and communications processes need to factor readiness, organizational priorities, and deployment constraints, to maximize the number of scheduled deployments.

In order to hit the April 8, 2014 deadline, organizations need to assess their XP elimination projects to determine how they’re going to meet the target date. Challenge any aspirational deployment plans by looking for hard data on what work needs to be done, and the amount of progress being made. You may want to look for an experienced partner to help provide the clarity to expedite the project. Here at Avanade we understand migration to a newer version of Windows is a business change program and not a technology implementation. Over the years we have helped organizations migrate over 7.5 million devices to newer versions of Windows and can help develop a business change program tailored to your specific requirements. There is still time to “beat the clock” but you need to act now.

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