Windows XP: Saying goodbye to an old friend?

Ben Cook –Senior Systems Consultant for Dell ChangeBASE


As most people in the IT world are aware, Windows XP goes end-of-life in April 2014. Many organizations have already taken the plunge with Windows 7 (or 8 for those at the bleeding edge), but there remains a significant proportion of companies who have yet to migrate. More worryingly there are others who believe the effort involved in such a migration outweighs the risks, and have decided to stay on Windows XP. In this blog post I'm going to discuss the options available to companies running this legacy operating system.


Option 1: Stay with Windows XP – Don’t pay for support

This is seemingly the easiest (initially) of all the options out there. Just do nothing. Your business is happily working away with XP right now, so why change anything? Studies have suggested that around 20% of businesses running Windows XP have no intention of upgrading. What are the risks with this approach?

  1. a) HIGH COST of supporting a legacy (XP) platform

According to an IDC report from 2012 Windows XP costs $870 (£554) per year to support. And that doesn’t include any additional payments to Microsoft for extended XP support (see option 2 for more on this).

  1. b) REDUCED SUPPORT of applications

There will be very little incentive for software vendors to support their applications running on Windows XP post-April 2014. And this is the big one. Software QA and test teams around the globe are itching to drop support for XP as this will lighten their workload by a significant chunk. This means that the latest versions of business critical vendor applications will soon no longer be supported or run on XP.


Your business will be exposed to any new as-yet-undiscovered security vulnerabilities. The holes in unsupported XP won’t be plugged post-April 2014. This could mean system downtime and application outages leading to loss of revenue and inability to operate the business. This often leads to cash flow issues especially where sales, billing and invoicing systems are down.

Option 2: Stay with Windows XP – Pay Microsoft for support

Microsoft is offering to support XP post-April 2014. But it won’t come cheap. Microsoft do not publish prices, preferring to instead quote on a per-customer basis. It’s suggested that the price will depend on the size of the application estate. Expect to pay a ballpark figure of $200 per XP device for the first year, then more for subsequent years. For a smallish estate of 1,000 PCs those support costs are relatively high at $200,000. The big estates will be very expensive. So you’ve now eliminated (c) from the list above, but you’ve still got (a) and (b) to contend with…

Option 3: Migrate to Windows 7/8

I’ve helped out on numerous Windows 7 migrations (both in Application Packaging and ChangeBASE implementation roles) and assuming you have the right tools and the right people, migrating away from XP isn’t such a big deal. For a typical application estate the ChangeBASE tool will report around 50% of applications will just work on Windows 7 32-bit. Another 40% or so will work with remediation (these are flagged as ‘Amber’ and can be auto-remediated in most cases by ChangeBASE), and the remainder (10% or so) will be ‘red’ and will typically need to be upgraded to a later version. It is inevitable that such a migration will need to happen at some point and it is proven that is more cost effective to move sooner rather than later.


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