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Windows XP: upgrading 30,000 PCs in 30 days

Windows XP

By Shona Ghosh

Posted on 3 Mar 2014 at 16:35

Businesses still have time to migrate from Windows XP before Microsoft pulls support, according to a UK IT firm that upgraded 30,000 PCs in a month.

Automatic updates for Windows XP will end on 8 April, meaning millions of PCs still running the OS have little more than a month to upgrade. According to NetMarketShare, around one in three PCs still run Windows XP, suggesting many businesses have yet to make the switch to Windows 7 or 8.

But it isn't too late, according to migration specialist 1E, which helped US carrier Verizon upgrade 80,000 machines to Windows 7 in four months, eventually hitting a pace of 30,000 per month.

IT is not a profession where learnings are captured and shared - Microsoft are not really helping

"It took us a couple of months to get it all set up - but during that time, because of all [our] learnings, we were already migrating their machines," said CEO Sumir Karayi. "We ramped up to this speed of about 30,000 a month and right at the end, they were doing even more than that."

That was in 2012, but Karayi said 1E was still working on dozens of migrations ahead of the deadline, and had already upgraded "several million" PCs.

Speaking to PC Pro, Karayi said businesses could make the switch quickly and relatively cheaply by using software that automates the migration process - cutting the need for tech support on each PC.

"How do you automate 100% of the [migration] tasks? That's the really big one," said Karayi. "What happens is people automate 80% or 90% - but still have to send a person down to every desk. And as soon as you’ve done that, you’ve lost the battle."

Karayi said 1E's own automated migration process saved one unnamed client, a healthcare insurance company, $10 million in personnel fees.

"They had budget for doing all of it manually," he said. "They saved $10 million just in...having people go round each machine."

Little help from Microsoft

One reason companies might be paying above the odds to migrate is because Microsoft hasn't done much to help, according to Karayi.

"IT is not a profession where learnings are captured and shared - Microsoft are not really helping [either] since they make money either way," he said. "If you don't automate, they send in some consultants, if you do automate, you buy the upgrade anyway."

"They are agnostic about a problem that is a challenge for all their customers," he added.

Karayi's comments come as Microsoft announced a free tool to help Windows XP users transfer data and files to a new PC. The tool isn't suitable for businesses though, which will have to fork out for a separate feature to transfer apps.

Microsoft has also said it will start notifying customers of the April deadline from 8 March via a pop-up, giving users a month to upgrade.

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User comments

Surely 60?

The first update not to happen will be in May - unless there will not be one in April. Not quite as bad, just bad enough.

By RichardKeys on 3 Mar 2014

@RicahrdKeys

That was my first thought but then I realised that the deadline is actually the discovery of the first 0-day vulnerability on or after 8th April.

By TBennett on 3 Mar 2014

One of the most brilliant IT chaps I've ever worked with

Sumir Karayi used to work for Microsoft, and one of his hobbies was to do a whole range of MCP exams 'for fun' without any preparation. It doesn't surprise me how far he's got with 1E.

By JohnGray7581 on 3 Mar 2014

A bigger challenge for the NHS

The NHS still has a six figure number of desktops to migrate in that space of time.

Given that this has been coming for several years and has been postponed twice - does anyone know the meaning of the word 'strategy'?

By colin52 on 3 Mar 2014

After the deadline will I still be able to download old updates?

I currently use XP once in a blue moon for compatibility reasons and occasionally a clean install is required so I'm wondering whether I should make a backup of an updated clean install or not now if the post SP3 updates aren't available through windows update.

Also, does this deadline also apply to Office 2003? I still use that out of preference but obviously may need to switch if updates stop.

By tech3475 on 4 Mar 2014

@tech3475

Yes, the updates will still be available online to download - although making an image or a VM snapshot of a clean install would save you a lot of time.

And yes, Office 2003 is also going out of support in April.

By big_D on 4 Mar 2014

Irrelevant stats

This IT company is talking nonsense. Just because 30,000 PCs can be upgraded in a month, does NOT mean if your company has 30,000 PCs you can do the entire upgrade in a month. The entire upgrade at this company took 4 months, not including any planning beforehand - and it took that long because that is how long it takes (if not longer) - even if you have 30 PCs.

By halsteadk on 5 Mar 2014

Nice work if you can get it

Mr Karayi is making money out of mugs.
Any organisation which plans and manages its' IT properly doesn't get into this mess.
In practice the rate of upgrade should be determined by the availability of staff to ensure things run smoothly. In the case I oversaw, we upgraded 5000 PCs in 1 month. A failure rate of 0.3% (15 machines) was handled by one desktop engineer full-time for one month. However we needed 6 training staff full-time for the month to help and advise users who were unnerved by the changes to their system. The training manager told me that most of their work wasn't strictly necessary, but it prevented panic in the ranks and consequent negative PR.
It is also worth noting that we didn't need Mr Marayi's migration process / tool - we used the remote control system in our network centre to deploy new Windows images remotely.

By howardabates1 on 6 Mar 2014

Microsoft con.

Perhaps Microsoft would like to pay to replace all my peripherals which I shall have to replace if I upgrade Windows. As they admit there are still so many PC's still running XP it is their duty to ensure that any loopholes are plugged. In any case if I did upgrade, it certainly wouldn't be to the crap Windows 8.

By birdmaniw on 6 Mar 2014

@birdmaniw

You should not be directing your anger at Microsoft. You should be venting at the peripheral manufacturers who have declined to write drivers for their hardware for newer versions of Windows. They do this to drive sales of newer equipment and you are eventually going to fall victim to this. Microsoft is not at fault here.

What is at fault is your expectation that Microsoft should continue to support an OS indefinitely just because people still use it. If you drove a 20 year old car would you expect the manufacturer to still provide spare parts?


As for Windows 8, try start8 - it turns Windows 8 into Windows 7 (or even XP) but faster and better in almost every way....and fully supported :-)

By barrettj on 6 Mar 2014

@birdmaniw

You should not be directing your anger at Microsoft. You should be venting at the peripheral manufacturers who have declined to write drivers for their hardware for newer versions of Windows. They do this to drive sales of newer equipment and you are eventually going to fall victim to this. Microsoft is not at fault here.

What is at fault is your expectation that Microsoft should continue to support an OS indefinitely just because people still use it. If you drove a 20 year old car would you expect the manufacturer to still provide spare parts?


As for Windows 8, try start8 - it turns Windows 8 into Windows 7 (or even XP) but faster and better in almost every way....and fully supported :-)

By barrettj on 6 Mar 2014

If you are not upgrading to Linux

...then quit complaining. Shut up and pay the man. Again.

By Col_Panek on 6 Mar 2014

NHS and XP

30,000 PC's is not a problem for the NHS;
having been part of the £1.6 billion pounds waste of money project on the NPfIT NHS program, I bought a fair number of these PC's for the NHS.
They were downgraded from Win 7 and Vista to XP.
Reason: The old softawre we bought (Millennium) in 2007 would not run to Vista /Win 7
Niether will the other old programs because the NHS cannot afford to update them.

As for updates to XP - not a problem. They were never updated anyhow as that just broke the client software and the IT departments did not allow auto updates etc to happen.

Only senior overpaid executives had NHS modern laptops with Win 7 installed - the actual workforce only updated to XP for MT 4 in 2004 anyhow.

For Clarity - I am talking about the entire South Central region and nearly all the North.

By MeesterChris on 8 Mar 2014

Cowboys

I've designed and implemented a zero touch migration from WinXP to Win7 without the cowboys at 1E trying to stick their neck in - and believe me they tried.

By JackD86 on 10 Mar 2014

YeeHaw

'Cowboys' JackD86? So far as I know, they have some of the world's biggest companies using their Nomad tool for Windows migrations. Stats like 30,000 PCs in one month with 95% fewer servers than using the native MS route is hardly the work of cowboys, but a pretty serious IT player.

The only reason I could see being anti-Nomad is if you're pro-selling your clients a tonne of servers they don't need, or claiming consultancy fees for two years whilst you migrate their desktops at a slow pace.

By Grunners on 14 Mar 2014

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