Dell recommends Windows 8.

Best-Practices for Migrating From XP to Windows 8

Brien Posey, Freelance Writer and Former CIO | 6/18/2013 | 16 comments

Brien Posey
Although Windows XP remains the desktop operating system of choice for many organizations, it is quickly becoming outdated. The operating system was first introduced 12 years ago, and support will officially end for it in 2014. When you also consider factors such as the lack of updates to the operating system, it becomes apparent that there are benefits to making the transition to Windows 8. 

Due to Windows XP's age, in-place upgrades to Windows 8 are not supported. Those who wish to make the transition will instead have to perform a clean installation. Although this does mean a bit more work on the part of the administrator, a clean installation may help to improve performance and security, since longstanding Windows XP deployments tend to carry a lot of baggage.

In some rare instances, it might be impossible for an organization to perform a migration from XP to Windows 8. A few years ago, for example, I knew of an organization that wanted to deploy Windows 7, but could not because no direct upgrade path was available. The organization depended upon an accounting package, but had lost the installation media years before. The company that published the accounting application had since gone out of business, so there was no way to legally obtain a copy (or a newer version) of the application.

In-place upgrades from Windows XP to Windows 7 are not supported either, and this particular organization could not perform a migration because doing so would mean losing a mission-critical application. Because there was a compelling business need for running Windows 7, the organization decided to take a chance with the unsupported upgrade path.

Although there was no direct upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 7, it was possible to do an in-place upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista, and then from Windows Vista to Windows 7. This type of multi-step upgrade is not supported by Microsoft and should probably be avoided unless there is no other alternative. In the case of this business, however, the multistep upgrade allowed it to transition to a newer operating system without losing its mission-critical application. It is conceivable that a similar multistep upgrade path could be used to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 8.

For those who are looking at a more traditional migration to Windows 8, there are a number of considerations that must be taken into account prior to moving forward with the migration. The biggest ones revolve around application and hardware compatibility.

The first step in any migration planning should be to compile an inventory of all of the applications that are used throughout the organization. Upon doing so, it is important to verify that each application is compatible with Windows 8, and that you still have the installation media, product keys, etc. (See: Testing Application Compatibility for Windows 8.)

There are a number of different resources on the Internet that can help you to verify application compatibility. Microsoft offers a free tool called the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant. Vendor websites are also useful for determining whether the applications that you are using are Windows 8 compatible, or if you will need a newer version.

As you assess the various applications in use throughout your organization, don't forget to take into account any management software that is running on the desktop. This can include things like antivirus applications, backup agents, or remote assistance tools. These types of utilities play an important part in day-to-day operations, but are easy to overlook when verifying application compatibility.

When it comes to assessing desktop hardware, it is most important to verify that each desktop meets the Windows 8 hardware requirements and that Windows 8 drivers are available for all of the hardware used throughout your organization.

Assuming that the desktop PCs meet the minimum Windows 8 hardware requirements, you probably won't have to worry too much about desktop PC compatibility. Where you might run into problems is with older peripheral devices. Some organizations that have migrated to Windows 8 have discovered that they were unable to acquire device drivers for older peripherals such as printers and scanners.

Keep in mind that hardware and software compatibility research alone will not guarantee a successful migration. Before you delve into an enterprise-wide Windows 8 migration, it's a good idea to work through several lab migrations, followed by a pilot program in the production environment. Doing so will help you to iron out any kinks before you commit to a large-scale migration.

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Trek   Best-Practices for Migrating From XP to Windows 8   6/27/2013 1:51:22 AM
Re: On Touchscreens
@ Joseph, thank you for mentioning ACT and other technologies that can make migration easier.  There is no painless migration, but the longer a company waits, the more painful it will be.  

@ Zias, thanks for pointing out that there are other ways to get the touch screen experience with other technological devices. 
michaelsumastre   Best-Practices for Migrating From XP to Windows 8   6/25/2013 12:37:53 PM
On Touchscreens
We have a 'regular' Windows 8 laptop and have recently acquired another one with a touchscreen overlay and I can say that the experience is definitely better. I would even say that their gestures have a better implementation than in IOS, and I have a couple of Apple gadgets with me. This does not mean though that workstations with a monitor and mouse would be paperweights if the new OS would be installed on them. Such machines stand to get a few things as well, such as faster booting and better power management. Again this is under assumption that they meet requirements.
Randomus   Best-Practices for Migrating From XP to Windows 8   6/23/2013 8:07:10 PM
Re: Inherent Cost ?
Tuscany: Certainly agree – can't wait to test out 8.1 and experience some of the improvements (hopefully), as Windows 8 certainly is where Microsoft wants to point users in the future.
Tuscany   Best-Practices for Migrating From XP to Windows 8   6/23/2013 6:27:53 PM
Re: Inherent Cost ?
@Randomus  Excellent point, Windows 8 can be used without the touch screen function, but it looses much of it luster, which is another way of saying a touchscreen is required in order to get the full power of the OS.

This is where 8.1 comes in, let see how it bridges this gap in regard to purpose versus utility.
Tuscany   Best-Practices for Migrating From XP to Windows 8   6/23/2013 6:24:13 PM
Re: Inherent Cost ?
@anthony.nima  I am glad you mentioned the other issues which I know it must have, I have not played with windows 8 and I really have no intention to, but as with most MS releases - I am sure there are many shortcomings.   

And Zaius just mention  touch screens are not required  - I am confused now but it doesn't matter, touchscreen or not -  I just don't like the UI at all.
Tuscany   Best-Practices for Migrating From XP to Windows 8   6/23/2013 6:20:02 PM
Re: Inherent Cost ?
@Zaius   Thanks for the clarification, I don't know where I got that from, maybe due to every time I see it displayed, someone is pushing that feature, it almost seemed like a default setting.

Well I am glad to hear that, that helps some, but I  still don't like the UI.  I am having real issues liking anything windows 8 offers from the desktop perspective.
Randomus   Best-Practices for Migrating From XP to Windows 8   6/23/2013 3:13:00 PM
Re: Inherent Cost ?
Windows 8 is being put on workstations that don't have touch screen capabilities, but it seems to lose a lot of its draw without touch.  At least Microsoft understands changes that should be tweaked, but I still don't think 8.1 will provide non-touch users much relief.
anthony.nima   Best-Practices for Migrating From XP to Windows 8   6/23/2013 11:49:30 AM
Re: Inherent Cost ?
@Tuscany: Yes indeed it requires a touch screen true but it alone won't solve the issue. It has some other issues which needs attention
Zaius   Best-Practices for Migrating From XP to Windows 8   6/23/2013 2:22:21 AM
Re: Inherent Cost ?
@Tuscany:
In fact, it does not require touchscreen. If you have a touch screen it is better and you can harvest all the goodies from Win8. Without touchscreen, you will miss some features and will be dependent more on mouse and keyboard. However, a touch screen is not a must. FYI, I have a laptor running Win8 and it does not sport a touchscreen. I am using it with mouse 'gesture'. [You can 'pinch' as if you are using a touch screen, but doing it on mouse touchpad].
Tuscany   Best-Practices for Migrating From XP to Windows 8   6/22/2013 11:02:03 PM
Inherent Cost ?
" ....Assuming that the desktop PCs meet the minimum Windows 8 hardware requirements,"

Am I missing something here ? I think it requires a touch screen if I am not mistaken, that alone is enough to move on.
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