What to do about Windows XP

There are three good mature IT solutions for the replacement of Windows XP workstations.

The first, and probably the most obvious, is the wholesale replacement of all workstations running Windows XP with newer workstations running Windows 7 or 8. Although some existing Windows XP workstations might have processor speed and RAM memory above the minimums required to run Windows 7, in our general experience, if the workstation was sold with Windows XP, the hardware warranty has expired and the workstation is not worth the invested labor and the additional OS software license for Windows 7 Professional (about $140.00). If you still have a lot of workstations running Windows XP, this can be an expensive proposition, but will certainly work.

The second, and less obvious solution, is converting all the Windows XP workstations into thin-client terminals, and deploying a Citrix / Terminal Server for all of the new “kiosks” that were former Windows XP workstations. There are a number of software products that allow you to turn a PC into a managed thin-client, and this is a very effective way to continue to re-use your Windows XP PC’s. As the PC’s slowly fail due to hardware malfunction, you simply replace them with actual thin-client terminals. Deploying a Citrix or Terminal Server has many benefits, including simplified IT management and highly secure and accessible remote access for teleworkers. There is also a special hidden benefit. Once your IT infrastructure includes a Citrix / Terminal Server, it is much easier to move your IT infrastructure to a private or public cloud platform.

The third solution, one you may not have even heard of is VDI. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a desktop-centric service that hosts user desktop environments on remote servers which are accessed over a network using a remote display protocol. This solution is similar to Citrix / Terminal Server, but goes further to create fully virtualized “workstations” that can be connected to from anywhere using any type of client device. A connection brokering service is used to connect users to their assigned desktop sessions. For users, this means they can access their desktop from any location, without being tied to a single client device. Since the resources are centralized, users moving between work locations can still access the same desktop environment with their applications and data. For IT administrators, this means a more centralized, efficient client environment that is easier to maintain and able to respond more quickly to the changing needs of the user and business.

Regarding cost, if you have less than 10 workstations to replace, most likely option 1 will be the least costly. Once you get above 10 PC’s, option 2 starts to look far more attractive, especially if you already have remote workers that were using some other remote access solution like Gotomypc or Logmein to remote-control existing Windows XP workstations. Option 3 will probably be the most expensive in almost any scenario, but yields the most flexibility and the best “full desktop” end-user experience.

For more information, and to help you plan for the retirement of Windows XP, Just Call 4it at (305)278-6001 today.

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