Support for Windows XP will officially end on April 8 2014. Businesses that still have workstations using Windows XP should make their migration to either Windows 7 or 8 a priority.

The EOL (End Of Life) of Windows XP means that business owners need to take action. Research by Dimensional revealed that only 37% of Windows XP users have migrated with 16% not even made a start with their migration process.

Tom Kendra, vice president and general manager of Dell Software said: "Considering most industry pundits predict it takes between 12 to 24 months to complete an OS (operating system) migration, there will be lots of procrastinators paying the price in terms of significant custom support costs and higher security risks when Microsoft's April 2014 end-of-support deadline for Windows XP hits."

Migrating to a new operating system is of course a major change within any business. Dimensional concluded: "The vast majority of participants (86%), reported challenges with their migration away from Windows XP. The biggest issues reported were application compatibility (41%) and being distracted by other IT projects (38%). They also faced challenges with training and supporting users (33%) and loss of user productivity (27%)."

Businesses using Dell equipment can take advantage of the Windows Migration Fast Forward Service that Dell explains as: "Dell's holistic approach to migration can help at any stage of your journey from planning, to migration and education services. Dell has developed unique tools and proven practices to ensure readiness and a cost effective migration."

Migrate your OS before it is too late

Dell offers this advice to ensure your business efficiently migrates to either Windows 7 or 8:

  • Prepare for Windows 7 or Windows 8 by inventory and compatibility testing applications. Identify all of the hardware, and determine what must be replaced and what can be upgraded. Where are you in the journey?
  • Automate the migration process including the base image, OS settings, applications, user data migration; domain join, encryption and all other steps in the PC build process. The goal is to reduce, or eliminate, the need for hands-on technicians, and even enable users to migrate themselves.
  • Implement track device readiness, application readiness and user change management throughout the migration schedule. Dell's cloud-based Client Deployment Manager helps track and manage the migration.
  • Educate your workforce to thrive on the new system.

Small business owners must of course pay close attention to the cost of their migration. There are usually two approaches: Either the purchase of new hardware with Windows 7 or 8 pre-installed, or a reimage their existing hardware to run on the new operating system.

Also, small businesses in particular can take the approach to migrate to Windows 7 or 8 and then use virtualisation to run Windows XP if this is necessary for applications that are incompatible with Windows 7 or 8.

What small businesses can't avoid is any migration. Taking a dynamic approach now to your enterprises Windows migration will ensure your systems are stable and secure. Time is rapidly running out, but taking practical action now to audit your current Windows installation and the applications that depend upon it will enable your business to develop a migration plan.