Microsoft Warns Of XP-To-Windows 7 Risks

In a recent interview, Gavriella Schuster, senior director for Windows Product Management, said the explosion of mobile computing has created security, compliance and productivity needs that XP simply can't handle, and that's why it's important for enterprises to move to Vista sooner rather than later.

"XP is ill-suited to address those needs in the enterprise today," Schuster said.

Microsoft is aware that some customers have chosen to skip Vista and stay with XP, but is warning them that the leap from XP to Windows 7 is fraught with risks. That's because the servicing layer changes Microsoft introduced in Vista could lead to the same application incompatibility issues that affected early Vista adopters, Schuster said.

To mitigate these risks, enterprises should take stock of the applications they're running and determine when their application vendors will end support for XP and begin support for Windows 7, Schuster said.

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Applications that need to be remediated will require the same amount of effort for Windows 7 as they would for Vista, and that adds to the potential for deployment delays, Schuster added.

But Andy Kretzer, director of sales and marketing at system builder Bold Data Technology, feels this is a case where Microsoft is spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt. "I haven't heard of any ISVs who've indicated that they'll no longer support their applications on Windows XP. That is utterly ridiculous," he said.

Microsoft executives have been banging the 'Don't Skip Vista' drum since last June, but the market's resistance to Vista has remained strong. In a recent report, Forrester said 15 percent of companies that took part in a recent survey plan to skip Vista and wait for Windows 7.

Microsoft's points about XP being unable to meet enterprises' needs may be valid, but solution providers that serve SMBs say their clients have no intention of moving to Windows 7 -- or Vista -- anytime soon.

"I haven't seen any situation in which XP hasn't been meeting my customers' needs," said Dan Hogan, vice president and COO at solution provider DSR. "In fact, the Vista Business-to-XP downgrade is still our largest-selling operating system for new PCs."