Windows XP is by far the most resilient Microsoft OS to date. Released in October of 2001 and improved with each service pack… Remember SP2 and the built-in firewall set on by default. Revolutionary. I write this and it sounds silly but those were big changes for Microsoft.
Now 12+ years later Microsoft will be ending all support for Windows XP on April 8th, 2014. What’s next for companies is a move to Windows 7 (released October 2009) or better yet Windows 8 (released October 2012).
If you are on the cutting edge there's Windows 8.1 (released October 2013) Are you seeing a pattern yet? The years between releases...
- Windows XP to Windows 7 - 8 years
- Windows 7 to Windows 8 - 3 years
- Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 - 1 year
I know I forgot Windows XP to Vista... Didn't we all forget Vista :) Here is the key takeaway, releases between OS revisions are getting shorter and shorter. Consumers are expecting more frequent OS updates and for Microsoft to compete with other fruit named businesses it has pushed for a yearly update cycle. Companies have stayed with XP because it was stable and provided a solid, consistent platform. End of Life means companies are going to have to move to stay secure but what does it mean for application compatibility?
- Companies must now consider application vendors who maintain support for current Operating Systems. Long gone are the days of vendors not testing their apps on current OS's.
- Companies need to leverage more imaging and application deployment tools to minimize the cost of more frequent roll-outs.
- Companies need to implement a Patch Management tool to control what updates (namely Internet Explorer) get rolled out and when. IE has been notorious for affecting web-based applications, preventing users from working.
- Companies should consider Desktop Visualization to control the working environment while supporting the BYOD or remote worker movements.
The fact is we will need to spend more up front time on OS compatibility validation. Getting that time back means selecting the right application vendors and using tools to help streamline the deployment and management processes. Personally I'm looking forward to it.