VAR Roundtable: Legacy Apps Hindering Small Business Migration To Cloud, Windows 10

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Legacy software and high upgrade costs have kept small and niche end users tethered to outdated Windows servers and operating systems, according to participants in a panel discussion on the subject this week in Quincy, Mass.

Solution providers participating in a CRN roundtable discussion at D&H Distributing's New England Technology Show. said they are still seeing a lot of Windows Server 2003 and on-premise infrastructure in their customer ecosystems, and don't anticipate seeing wide-scale adoption of Windows 10 until support is terminated for older operating systems.

"There's no way in hell you'll see Windows 10 [in machine shops or manufacturing plants]," said David Dion, chief technology officer at Brick Computer in Rowley, Mass. "We still deploy Windows 98 and XP in those facilities."

[Related: VAR Roundtable: Small VARs Doing More Business With Lenovo, Sophos]

Machine shops typically operate on boxes and machines that are 2 decades old, Dion said, meaning they have to depend on legacy apps because more modern software isn't compatible with the antiquated devices.

Susan Trahant, general manager of Peabody, Mass.-based Land Computer, said end users aren't going to change course after spending thousands of dollars on proprietary software just because Microsoft released a new operating system.

Trahant said many of her customers were jaded by negative experiences with Windows 8 -- which she said they found to be impractical with business apps -- and therefore likely won't go over to Windows 10 until support for Windows 7 is terminated.  

"My customers don't even want Windows 8," Trahant said.

Likewise, Lou Giovanetti, co-founder of Woburn, Mass.-based CPU Sales & Service, said many of his clients had legacy business apps that didn't even work on Windows 8, requiring those customers who buy Windows 8 licensing to downgrade to Windows 7.

Similar issues have prevented small businesses from wholeheartedly embracing cloud, Dion said, as many vertical-specific apps have little or no presence in the cloud.

Robert Lloyd, founder of Haddam, Conn.-based TechNet Computing, said a multitude of factors are keeping small businesses from the cloud, including on-premise line-of-business applications, physical locations that can't support more than a DSL connection and misguided customer fears related to security.

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