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Will end of XP support spark rash SaaS and Office 365 decisions?

When some firms realise how little time remains until Microsoft pulls the plug on XP support next year, they could cut corners with software as a service and end up making some unwise decisions.

Foot-dragging over upgrading from Windows XP could be followed by a series of hasty decisions, as organisations realise the scale and cost of the task facing them.

With Microsoft support for XP due to end on 8 April 2014, some firms may be tempted to try software-as-a-service (SaaS) products such as Office 365 to speed up migration and testing, an analyst has warned.

Failure to consider long-term strategy

People who are only just realising how much time the migration of XP desktops will take may look to SaaS to shorten that process without thinking about the long-term strategic view, according to Ovum principal analyst Roy Illsley.

"There are some cases where [SaaS] will be used as a way of mitigating a massive cost and people won't really look into the true cost of doing it," he said.

"If people are saying, 'Actually, we're going to use Office 365', that's a great piece of work that they don't have to test."

According to Illsley, some 41 percent of people are still running XP. "By this time next year they've got to be off it because support ends," he said.

Earlier this month, a study from Accenture- and Microsoft-owned software consultancy Avanade suggested 52 percent of UK IT departments have yet to put in place a strategy for dealing with applications that currently run under XP, first released to manufacturers in August 2001.

Illsley warned against making plans for life after XP rooted in cost and expediency. "Do not make decisions based purely on the economics of migrating off XP. Think strategically," Illsley said.

Migrating XP desktops

Making short-term decisions that help with migrating XP desktops could have longer term implications, he said.

For example, the consequences of move to a SaaS product such as Office 365 may not surface immediately.

"When they've been in it for a couple of years, they'll think, 'Right, OK, we don't really like this Office 365 malarkey. Let's try something else. Oh crikey, getting the data out and doing this and that, that's going to be expensive. We can't do that now'," he said.

"There's a bit of, 'I'm stuck with this for a long term once I've made that snap decision'."

Losing control of where the data resides, for example, may also in the future prove to be a critical issue. A business might ultimately prefer data is held secure in the country of incorporation, Illsley said. "If you have moved from on-premise, can you get [the data] back, and at what cost?" he said.

About

Toby Wolpe is a senior reporter at TechRepublic in London. He started in technology journalism when the Apple II was state of the art.

8 comments
tech_e
tech_e

Citing the specific example of Office365, I'm not sure what the article is saying. Is it that someone may choose Office365 as opposed to upgrading XP? First, how is that related? Just to save data in the cloud instead of on a vulnerable PC? In any event, it's not a good example. Office365 will not install on WinXP. (If there is a workaround, I don't know about it.) If they use 365, they're going to have to upgrade to Win7 at least which would make the point moot.

Dukhalion
Dukhalion

We can use XP for as long as we like. Since XP has the broadest driver support of any windows version, it will take a really long time before there will be any problems because of that. As far as Microsofts support is concerned, I do not see any problems with that either. I don't even know anyone who uses Microsofts security measures alone, and very few at all. Third party antivirusprograms and firewalls will work for as long as there are customers. The hype about having to abandon XP just because Microsoft stops supporting it is nothing more than a very sneaky type of advertising. As an example; I have one computer with DOS 5.0 for various testing purposes and for playing a few vintage games, and it works perfectly, regardless that Microsoft stopped supporting that version for donkeys years ago.. So, don't be fooled by the hype, You can use XP for as long as Your computer works. The only reason I see for really having to buy a newer version is if You have to buy a brand new top-of-the-notch computer. XP will live for a long time still. In many companies too.

philstilliard
philstilliard

If someone buys a windows XP licence, shouldn't that entitle them to use it as long as they wish? Maybe Trading Standards should look into it.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Blame the CIO on incompitence if they wait until the last moment for not migrating prior the remaining few months of XP support. If smarter, they would of done it last year. But I also know many individuals who are using Windows XP. Some can't afford to buy a new system. Others [but few] couldn't care less that there will be no support [they use their computer sparingly]. Those I know, know that XP dies in about 13 months but unless someone has told them, I'm sure many XP users don't know that support is dying or what it means when support dies. I'm sure few know that when XP support dies that if their printer dies, good luck in getting a printer with software that will include XP support [other than old stock], or companies will stop supporting XP [maybe the lsatest Quickbooks setup will deny installing Quickbooks].

tech_e
tech_e

@Dukhalion

@Dukhalion While I agree there is a lot of hype to this, at least from a business standpoint, it would be really foolish to accept this thought process. First, DOS in no way has the security vulnerabilities as WinXP. That's a useless comparison. Second, assuming the antiV/M software could catch every problem, it will fix it until it's exploited again - resulting in a very annoying and inefficient circle of infection. (And if you think you're 100% secure using AV/M on an known unsecure system, then you are taking a big chance.) Finally, whether it's justified or not, MS and other developers will create prerequisites to run their software that will not include XP. (Say for example there is a huge "virus threat" for IE11. MS will produce a patch or upgrade to IE12 and it will not install on XP. Or, perhaps you'll just want Office 365 which will not install on XP.) I agree that the system will function and hardware-wise you should be ok. But it's still foolish and unnecessary to continue to put it off. Especially in a business environment, which admittedly, you may not be considering.

Gisabun
Gisabun

First, good luck in getting an XP license now. Second, the end of support doesn't mean the end of usage. I knew someone who still has a computer with Windows 98 - support that died a number of years ago. Maybe you should read the license agreement of software.

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

ya just gotta know where to look I can still get em probably will for a little while longer (at least until 2014) most times an Unused OEM COA comes with older hardware and usually cost less than the OEM System Builder media would cost and they're usually unused because the original installation was VLK and the OEM Supplied COA was there just because MS said it had to be there eg. right now I can get p-4 systems with unused XP-Pro COA for under $100.00 so I get 1 COA at a discounted price and free hardware to go with it if you want a little newer like core2duo it's about $130 - $160 thus the hardware is still free or nearly free as the XP-Pro system builder kit with 1 COA & CD was around $139.00