Have you decided to take the plunge and migrate your client PCs from earlier versions of Windows to XP? Maybe you have a queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach and are wondering whether you’re setting your enterprise up for a nightmare. While many IT shops have had trouble-free migrations, there are plenty of others that have had to roll back their systems after they couldn’t get XP’s networking to work—or when it wouldn’t support legacy apps or hardware.

The first thing you need to do is make sure there’s a compelling reason to upgrade. Yes, Windows XP sports an improved interface and it is certainly more stable than Windows 9x, Me, and NT. But every environment is different. And because ROI rules in IT today, take the time to make sure XP is worth the cost and trouble by doing a full cost analysis. A great place to start that analysis is with the Forbes’ Windows XP ROI Calculator, one of several online XP resources I’ll provide below. (Keep in mind that Microsoft’s licensing terms for Windows and Office XP will change on August 1.)

The following resources will not only improve your knowledge of the XP system but are bound to make any enterprise migration easier. These sites offer migration tips, drivers, and other utilities that promise to aid in your migration. One word of caution: Be careful before downloading anything. Make sure to validate anything you install or purchase, and be on the lookout for viruses or anything that can cause security problems on your system or network.

Windows XP ROI Calculator
Not sure whether it makes good business sense to upgrade to Windows XP? This ROI calculator from Forbes.com lets IT professionals enter data specific to their computing environments. It’s designed for individuals, small offices, and large corporate computing environments alike.

University of Texas XP migration recommendations
The University of Texas at Austin’s Information Technology Services group, which last fall participated in Microsoft’s Windows XP Rapid Adoption Program, has recommended that all faculty, staff, and departments using earlier versions of Windows—notably those using Windows 95 and 98—migrate to Windows XP Pro. The list of ITS recommendations, tips, and helpful information to consider when performing any migration to Windows XP Professional provides strong guidelines that will help in your enterprise’s effort.

Wayne Maples’ Windows XP migration site
This site is filled with resources for administrators and end users. Maples is a networking and OS expert and a member of CERT with 20 years of IT experience. There’s a great section on XP Tips Sorted by Hit Count that provides a clear indication of the most popular topics among IT professionals. Tips are sorted also by administrator/user/registry relationship.

InfiniSource Inc., a developer of personal productivity shareware, runs this site. There are loads of tech tips—many of which came from InfiniSource’s acquisition of Windows-Help.NET in late 1998. There’s a solid FAQ section, a troubleshooting section, and how-to section.

The Windows Guide Network provides technical resources and support for tweaking, managing, and securing Windows using the registry. Clicking on one of the several technical guide sections on the home page produces a hefty list of quick tips for everything from removing the Security tab to commands for hiding start-up scripts and restricting task creation and deletion features.

This site provides tips to help users search for drivers. A premium membership allows members to get the latest software for Windows-based systems, and the member-only weekly newsletter alerts members to new site additions. But if you don’t want to pay, the home page and the message boards are accessible to visitors.

Excerpts from O’Reilly’s Windows XP In A Nutshell Book
This book includes details about Windows XP, utility programs, and configuration settings, and features tips and warnings as well. Lengthy excerpts from two chapters of the book are available online: “Windows XP Applications and Tools” and “Networking.”

Microsoft resources
Comparison: Windows XP Home Edition vs. Windows XP Professional
Looking to save some money and go with Windows XP Home rather than XP Pro? The latter is much more suited to corporate networks, of course, but this matrix will point out the specific differences.

Adding NetBEUI support to XP
While Windows XP does not support the NetBIOS Extended User Interface (NetBEUI) network protocol, for those still requiring and not migrating to TCP/IP or any other network protocol, this site offers clear, concise directions and advice on how to install XP.

Microsoft’s XP newsgroup
Ask questions and find answers by sharing insight with fellow tech professionals grappling with XP issues. There are over 2,500 posts relating directly to general XP issues.

IT publication resources
An increasing number of technology publications are writing and discussing XP as the new system is integrated into today’s enterprises. Some publications offer specific utilities, downloads, and tips as well. Here are just a few resources:

Share your XP resources

We tried to find the best online XP resources, but we realize that it’s not all-inclusive. If you’ve got an XP resource or site to share, write and tell us about it.