What one organization’s migration from Windows XP can teach you about your IT department

LaptopsWindows XP reigned as one of the most popular Windows operating systems, making the end of support for the beloved system a bitter pill to swallow for large and small organizations. Many feared the potential headache associated with transitioning their infrastructures to Windows 7 or Windows 8, not to mention losing the familiarity of XP, leaving some waiting until the last minute to migrate. However, some companies that have moved on found that the migration process wasn’t as difficult as they expected, and more importantly, the conversion created an opportunity to improve their IT processes as a whole.

Facing the end of Windows XP

With the April 8, 2014 deadline quickly approaching, a state agency with more than 22,000 employees took steps to get ahead of its transition, developing a conversion process that it hoped would simplify Windows 7 adoption throughout the organization.

To ease implementation, the agency turned to long-time partner SHI. Knowing the complexities of the agency’s environment, we assessed the conversion process with an eye toward any potential holes as well as opportunities for general improvements to IT. Continue Reading…

Tags: , , , ,

Saying goodbye to Windows XP: 3 free tools for Windows deployment

By now everyone should know that Windows XP support ends on April 8. But that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone has jumped into action. Despite a nearly two-year warning about this deadline, at the end of 2013 more than one in four PCs around the world had yet to break the XP habit. And while the number of PCs running on Windows XP is surely dropping, many organizations still need to step into the light and adopt Windows 7 or Windows 8.

While moving to a new version of Windows might seem like a hassle, organizations should look at it as an opportunity to inspect their entire IT infrastructure beyond just the OS they use and identify any room for improvement.

For those working to upgrade their OS in the next couple months, Microsoft offers three free tools for all organizations, no matter their size, infrastructure, or IT resources, to smooth the transition. Here’s how they can help: Continue Reading…

Tags: , ,

Saying goodbye to Windows XP: 3 free tools for Windows deployment

By now everyone should know that Windows XP support ends on April 8. But that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone has jumped into action. Despite a nearly two-year warning about this deadline, at the end of 2013 more than one in four PCs around the world had yet to break the XP habit. And while the number of PCs running on Windows XP is surely dropping, many organizations still need to step into the light and adopt Windows 7 or Windows 8.

While moving to a new version of Windows might seem like a hassle, organizations should look at it as an opportunity to inspect their entire IT infrastructure beyond just the OS they use and identify any room for improvement.

For those working to upgrade their OS in the next couple months, Microsoft offers three free tools for all organizations, no matter their size, infrastructure, or IT resources, to smooth the transition. Here’s how they can help: Continue Reading…

Tags: , ,

How to prepare for the end of Windows XP

Organizations will face a predictable IT operations and security challenge this year when Microsoft ceases support for Windows XP. Effective April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer publish security updates and hotfixes for the operating system.

Recently, Microsoft said it will extend updates for Windows XP security products through July 14, 2015. But even with that extension, organizations aren’t in the clear. Though Microsoft will provide signature updates to Microsoft Security Essentials that will aid in blocking attacks against security vulnerabilities, it will not patch those vulnerabilities or impact those users not using Microsoft Security Essentials. This means that vulnerabilities discovered after the end-of-life will continue to remain despite this increased support window.

This might not seem significant but according to the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures database published by Mitre, 721 Windows XP vulnerabilities have been identified over the last 13 years. One hundred sixty-six of which are highly exploitable code execution vulnerabilities that have been discovered in the last five years.

So what do you do with legacy systems that have reached their end of life? Here are three simple steps that can help prepare your IT lifecycle.

1. Identify
First you need to identify the scope of the Windows XP desktops and laptops in your IT environment. This step can be as simple as accessing Active Directory or performing an Nmap fingerprint scan on your networks. Support tools, such as help desk systems, the Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), can also assist in this effort. Organizations should be forewarned that these tools often only provide 90 percent accuracy since legacy laptops and systems might not exist under your domain or are only connected intermittently. Continue Reading…

Tags: ,

What the end of Windows XP means for reimaging rights

Microsoft plans to discontinue support for Windows XP in April 2014, and as a result many businesses are now scrambling to upgrade their operating systems. Inevitably, we’ve seen an influx of questions about the available options, the best methods for transitioning, and most importantly, the applicability of Windows reimaging rights.

Reimaging rights refer to the ability of a Windows software purchaser to copy that software onto multiple devices from a single standard image. Reimaging rights are often utilized when an organization purchases a device, or multiple devices, that are preloaded with the latest version of the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) operating system (OS). More often than not, businesses don’t run the most current software across their IT environments, or they are incapable of supporting multiple versions. In these cases, reimaging rights allow businesses to downgrade the software on the new device by running a standard image in their local environment.

Reimaging rights are directly related to how an organization procures software, whether through a reseller via a volume licensing (VL) agreement, pre-installment on a device purchased through an OEM, or a Full Packaged Product (FPP) purchased from a distributor. These unique ways of acquiring the Windows desktop OS complicate the reimaging rights allowed in certain scenarios. Continue Reading…

Tags: , , ,

As Windows XP nears its end, businesses weigh Windows 8 upgrade

Microsoft will cease to support Windows XP on April 8, 2014. The operating system’s product lifecycle will come to an end, Microsoft will stop producing security patches and other updates, and organizations will be faced with a dilemma: To continue using Windows XP, one of the most popular versions of Windows, despite the security risks of running an unsupported system, or to upgrade to the unfamiliar Windows 8 or another more recent OS version.

Microsoft, for one, would prefer businesses to move off XP and has made this one of its top sales priorities for fiscal year 2014, along with winning over businesses to the benefits of Windows 8.

The Windows XP end-of-life date will affect more than 10 million PCs. If your business accounts for any of them, you might want to start considering an upgrade. The following video will highlight the new features released with Windows 8, explain how Windows 8 affects your volume licensing agreements, and offer next steps for implementing Windows 8 in your organization.

Tags: , , ,