Server 2012 or 2016: To Upgrade or Wait

To upgrade or wait?

Once again, we are faced with the age-old IT question – should we upgrade or wait? In this case, the question refers to Windows Server — “Should we go to 2012 now or should we wait?”  As in most cases within IT, the answer depends on the situation and is different from environment to environment.  Let’s look at the timeline that bring up this question:

  • Windows Server 2016 is expected to be released  first quarter 2016.
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 released in October 2014.
  • Windows Server 2012 had a general availability release back in September 2012.
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 has a tentative End of Life (EOL) set for 2020.

Currently, Windows 2008 R2 makes up the majority of the server workloads in use today.  Many organizations have barely started working with 2012, if at all.  Most organizations are still operating Active Directory at the 2008 level.  Some are still on Windows Server 2003, even though it has already hit EOL.  The past repeats itself because we have again hit a point where the most utilized version of a Windows software is going to be two or more generations behind the latest release.  Server 2012 adaptation increased when R2 was released and particularly when Server 2003 hit EOL and companies needed to migrate off that platform.  Timing and other factors went into the slow adaptation of Server 2012.  However, Server 2012 suffered from the same issue Windows 8 did – the interface.  Server 2012 is a solid product, but the interface turns off so many IT professionals who have to live in it day-to-day.  The interface is based on the Metro Interface used in Windows 8.  The Metro Interface was designed with touch screens and tablets in mind.  How many IT professionals have touch screens available or use tablets when connecting to their Windows servers?  Yes, you can put a start menu in 2012 with a third-party product.  But how many of us are against the cluttering of our servers with unnecessary software installations?

Given what was just stated, let’s get back to the question at hand.  Should you got to Server 2012 now or wait?  The answer depends on your organization’s needs, plans, and project timeframes.  At this point, the most compelling reasons to install server 2012 right now is if you are installing or upgrading to the latest versions of a particular application, you are still on server 2003, or a company mandate is in place.  Here are some reasons to wait for server 2016:

  • At this point in the year, if you have not budgeted for an upgrade/migration project for this year, then you can put it in the budget for next year.
  • Server 2016 has an interface that is based on Windows 10’s interface. Yes, it has a start menu.
  • Going to server 2012 R2 in the near future will immediately put you one version behind.
  • Along with Server 2016, Exchange, SQL, and SharePoint 2016 will be released as well.
  • The preview builds have had favorable reviews.
  • Needed improvements in Hyper-V.
  • If you migrate now, how long before you will need to migrate again.

Let’s look at the reasons against waiting for Server 2016:

  • Keep in mind that even though the release is expected first quarter, it is not a good thing to have your production environment on the bleeding edge. I usually advise my clients that adapting a new version of a software should be held off for a few months after the release at the least.  The major issues will most likely be found and resolved within the first few months.  I usually advocate waiting until the equivalent of the first service pack comes out.
  • If you are still on a 2003 environment, you are waiting too long and sitting on vulnerabilities that will no longer be remediated.
  • Application compatibility. We are looking at a new operating system.  You know there are going to be applications that are not compatible with it.  Even if a piece of software proves compatible, you may still need to wait until the vendor says it supports the installation.
  • Knowledge and the ability to support the features. This is a new Operating System.  You can relate what you know about previous versions of Windows Server, but there will definitely be new subject matter to learn.  Features like containers will need some research and knowledge.  If you are not comfortable with PowerShell, you better get comfortable.

In short, if you are not on server 2012 at the moment, are off of Server 2003, and you can wait about eight months, then consider waiting for Server 2016 to do your migration.  The nice thing I have seen so far, is that you can treat 2016 like another version of Windows Server with improvements for what you know and use now.  However, it is the new features and concepts that will make it worth the wait.  I will be posting a blog or two (or three) concerning the release of Windows 2016 in the next few months.  I usually write blogs like this one for a wide range of readers involved in IT from the technical to the not-as-technical.  The future blogs on Windows 2016 will be more technical.

Feel free to post any questions or comments below or reach me directly by email.





Craig R. Kalty (CCIA, CCEE, CCA, MCITP:EA, MCITP:SA, VCP)| Sr. Network Consultant



©2015 Custom Systems Corporation

XenApp 7.6 – Are we there yet?

citrix-logo-webIn a previous blog, I discussed upgrading to the XenDesktop/XenApp version 7.x product lines. On the XenDesktop side, I briefly discussed that the decision to upgrade is a no-brainer. Just do it. For version 7.6, I still hold to that statement. However, for XenApp, I said to be careful before jumping in. The reason for that was the loss of many features that we had in IMA and not under the new FMA architecture. XenApp 7.6 does a great job of closing that feature gap. With the release of 7.6, we get back these features:

  • Anonymous login to enable a kiosk mode.
  • Session linger which holds a session in an active state for a little while in case we did not mean to disconnect from our session or realized there is something we forgot and needed to jump back in.
  • Application pre-launch which enables faster user logon.
  • Resilient connections (called Database Connection leasing) which is similar to the purposes of Local Host Cache in previous versions.
  • FIPS compliance which is important for security particularly with the government.
  • Application folder support to help us organize our published applications.

This feature set includes most of what I had said was missing in the previous blog. There are still a few features missing in the FMA architecture. For instance, one feature I wish to have back is the ability to specify that a server be able to publish applications across different sets of servers. For example, I used to be able to publish an application on Servers 1 through 3 and then publish another application on servers 3 and 4. Or, I could have published an application across a group of servers and then exclude some of those servers when publishing another application. We cannot do anything similar to that in XenApp 7.x. At the moment, you can put a server in one group only and all published applications are across all servers in that group. If you have multiple groups of servers, it is not possible to create just one published application across some or all the servers in different groups. Each group would have its own set of published applications.

We do get a lot of new features in the release of XenDesktop/XenApp 7.6. There are new features that have to do with hosting, provisioning, and more. However, I am focusing specifically on the XenApp side. New XenApp features since 7.5 include:

  • USB 3.0 support. This does not mean everything we plug in to a USB 3.0 port is usable within XenApp, but it does mean that USB 3.0 drivers are recognized and supported devices can be accessed through the port.
  • Improved graphics acceleration.
  • A new XenApp 6.5 to 7.6 migration tool.

While focusing on the new, let’s not lose sight of the other advantages of XenApp 7.x:

  • Support for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2. So, if you want to utilize the latest server technology, XenApp 6.5 will not cut it.
  • The installation for version 7.x has been greatly streamlined. It is much easier than version 6.5.
  • HDX improvements.
  • Cloud compatibility and integration.
  • More.

So, the question remains: Upgrade or not? In my previous blog, I was more in the ‘not’ zone. With XenApp 7.6, I am now in the ‘maybe’ zone. If your XenApp 6.5 farm is working fine and you have no pressing reason to upgrade, then why fix what is not broken. If you want to work towards moving off XenApp 6.5 and can bring up new servers without touching the old, you can run both farms side-by-side. You can utilize Storefront or even Web Interface to make it seamless to the users.

Keep in mind that I am not saying that XenApp 7.x is a bad product. It is not. If you are building a new farm then you definitely should be going to XenApp 7.6. I am just talking about the upgrade decision. I believe that XenApp 6.5 is a great product and should not be dropped because a new version of XenApp is out. I am a consultant. It would be in my interest for my clients to upgrade their environments. However, I also work at being a trusted advisor for my clients and would not have them perform an upgrade for the sake of going to the latest and greatest.

What do you think? I’m always interested in hearing about your experiences with Citrix XenApp. Please post your comments or questions below. You can also reach me directly by email.




Sr. Network Consultant




©2015 Custom Systems Corporation

Windows Server 2003 Migration: Tasks Part 3 – Build and Test

windows server 2003 R2In Part 2, we created a plan that maps out the migration from Windows Server 2003. Now we are at the point where we need to build what we designed. Notice how in all the blogs concerning decommissioning 2003 that I use the words ‘migrate’ and ‘migration’ and not upgrade? I probably should have discussed this sooner, but there is no upgrade. You cannot upgrade 32-bit Windows 2003 to 64-bit 2008 R2 or 2012 R2. No matter your plan and budget, you will need to perform a fresh install on at least one server to start the process. Also, it would be wisest to go to 2012 R2 for many reasons (particularly not having to repeat this process when 2008 reaches end-of-life). For some migration paths, you may need to install at least one 2008 server to go from 2003 to 2008 and then to 2012.

The best place to start would be a test/development environment. We know from experience that there are many smaller shops out there that do not have the budget to create a development environment. Most of them are going to rely on the expertise of their staff or outside services to get their environment from where it is now directly to an updated infrastructure without performing a lot of tests. For those environments, remember to at least do extensive planning and research beforehand to mitigate issues. For those that can build a development environment, the best way to do it is virtualization (there I go again using that word). Remember that you can make a virtual server host out of various hardware platforms. You can even install a robust hypervisor for free. To give you an example, my laptop has an extra drive that I swap instead of the DVD drive. I then manually boot to the extra hard drive where I have XenServer hosting over a dozen VMs. Is it powerful? Not really, but I can run my demo environment from it. The point is we don’t need to break the budget to make a development environment. We may not even need to touch any of the budget. If you did budget for a new virtual environment or to extend an existing one, here is where you can start utilizing that new investment. P2V (physical to Virtual) machine images of your existing infrastructure servers. From there, you can fire up a new virtual machines (VMs) housing 2012 R2 and/or 2008 R2. Once you have the test environment, take snapshots of all the VMs before making any changes. Now you can begin the process of converting your virtual infrastructure in a development environment. If you run into issues, you can utilize the snapshots to reset the environment and try again. Take detailed notes of all the steps and pay attention to any potential problems. Once you have a clear plan with detailed notes, you are less likely to run into the unexpected when updating your production environment.

So, what exactly are we testing in our development environment? There are basic services that almost every shop is going to be utilizing. Active Directory, DNS, and DHCP are the three most common services we will need to migrate to another server. The good news is that detailed directions from Microsoft and other experts can easily be found on the web. Some organizations are going to have the basics and some are going to have more services in use. For instance, some organizations may utilize Terminal Services. Migrating that to Remote Desktop Services (RDS) will be a project in itself (though a worthwhile one).

Here is an example list of services you may/will need to test:

  • Basic services:
    • Active Directory (AD)
    • Group Policy
    • Domain Naming Systems (DNS)
    • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)
  • Extended services:
    • Certificate Services and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)
    • Terminal Services
    • Distributed File Services (DFS)
    • Internet Information Services (IIS)
    • Network Load Balancing (NLB)

Each organization is different, so they may have some or all of the items from the above list. A lot of organizations will have more to add to the list. Aside from these services that come in a Windows server, we will need to test hosted applications. This set of blogs has been pretty much focused on the Active directory side of the migration, but what about applications? If you have Exchange, SQL, or another enterprise application hosted on a 2003 server, you are going to need a separate project just to migrate those applications. This may be the opportunity to move from in-house mail services to a cloud-hosted solution like Office 365. It is possible to focus on upgrading our Active Directory infrastructure first and saving the applications hosted on 2003 servers for a later project. However, research the applications to make sure they will still function in an updated AD infrastructure. If not, that is one of those symmetrical projects you will need to have in your plan.

The next step will be implementation into production. At this point, we are ready. We have performed tests in our development environment, gained experience in the tasks, created detailed instruction sets, and realized modifications needed in our plan.

As always, I welcome your comments or questions. Please feel free to leave them below or email me directly. Also, be sure to bookmark our site for more information from Microsoft. Also, please be sure to register for our live, Microsoft event – Windows Server 2003:  Security Risk and Remediation on February 18.




Sr. Network Consultant




©2015 Custom Systems Corporation

Upgrading Windows Server 2003 Active Directory

windows server 2003 R2Windows Server 2003 was like XP.  Everyone loved it and never wanted to move off of it.  And just like XP, the time is coming quickly where you will need to move away from the much loved server or become vulnerable to threats very quickly.  Once support has ended for Windows Server 2003 there will be no more security patches, but the threats will still be there.

One of the most common systems that I see on Windows Server 2003 these days is Active Directory.  That tends to be true since moving Active Directory can be a long and tedious process.  It can also cause numerous issues along the way.

Below is a basic guide on upgrading your Windows Server 2003 Active Directory to Windows Server 2012 R2.  I would not recommend doing this on your own.  This is something that takes planning and careful consideration.  Projects like this are where companies such as Custom Systems are a perfect choice.

In case you were not aware, End of Life (EOL) for support of Windows Server 2003 is currently slated for July 14, 2015.  That date is fast approaching and will be here before you know it.  Make sure to plan for these upgrades with ample time to complete them.

I will not get into what Active Directory is and what it does, as it provides authentication and authorization services as well as a framework for other related services that can be deployed.

The below guide is only a reference and should not be considered the perfect solution for all upgrades.  Each upgrade will differ and will require extensive planning. This guide assumes that you have a 2012 R2 server installed as well as have installed the Active Directory role.  Again this guide is not to be followed without proper planning and assistance.

First step is to Transfer the Flexible Single Master Operations (FSMO) Role

  1. Open the Active Directory Users and Computers console on your new Windows Server 2012 R2 computer.
  2. Right click your domain and select Operations Masters in the sub menu.
  3. In the Operations Masters window, ensure the RID tab is selected.
  4. Select the Change button.Dec 15 post 1
  5. Select yes when asked about transferring the Operations Master role.
  6. Once the Operations Master role has successfully transferred, click OK to continue.
  7. Ensure the Operations Master box now shows your new 2012 R2 Windows Server.
  8. Repeat steps 4 to 6 for the PDC and Infrastructure tabs.
  9. Once completed, click Close to close the Operations Masters window.
  10. Close the Active Directory Users and Computers window.

Changing the Active Directory Domain Controller

  1. Open the Active Directory Domains and Trusts console on your new Windows Server 2012 R2 computer.
  2. Right click your domain and select Change Active Directory Domain Controller… in the sub menu.
  3. In the Change Directory Server window, select This Domain Controller or AD LDS instance.
  4. Select your new 2012 R2 Windows Server.Dec 15 post 2
  5. Click OK to continue.
  6. Back in the Active Directory Domains and Trusts window, hover over the Active Directory Domains and Trusts found in the folder tree on the left hand side to ensure the server now reflects your new 2012 R2 Windows server.
  7. Right click Active Directory Domains and Trusts found in the folder tree and select Operations Manager… in the sub menu.
  8. In the Operations Master window, click Change to transfer the domain naming master role to the 2012 R2 Windows Server.
  9. When asked if you are sure you wish to transfer the operations master role to a different computer, click yes.
  10. Once the operations master is successfully transferred, click OK to continue.
  11. Click Close to close the Operations Master window.
  12. Close the Active Directory Domains and Trusts console.

 Changing the Schema Master

  1. Open a command prompt in administration view on your new Windows Server 2012 R2 computer.
  2. On the command prompt window, enter regsvr32 schmmgmt.dll and hit enter.
  3. Once completed successfully, click OK to close the RegSvr32 window.Dec 15 post 3
  4. Close the command prompt.

 Add the Active Directory Schema Console from MMC

  1. Open a MMC console on your new Windows Server 2012 R2 computer.
  2. Click File > Add/Remove Snap-in…
  3. In the Add or Remove Snap-ins window, select Active Directory Schema and click the Add > button.Dec 15 post 4
  4. Click OK to continue.

 Change the Schema Master

  1. In the same MMC console, right click Active Directory Schema and select Change Active Directory Domain Controller… in the sub menu.
  2. In the Change Directory Server window, select This Domain Controller or AD LDS instance.
  3. Select your new 2012 R2 Windows Server.
  4. Click OK to continue.
  5. A warning will appear stating that the Active Directory Schema snap-in in not connected. Click OK to continue.
  6. Hover over the Active Directory Schema folder in the folder tree to ensure the new Windows Server 2012 R2 computer is shown.
  7. Now right click Active Directory Schema and select Operations Master… in the sub menu.
  8. In the Change Schema Master window, click Change to transfer the schema master role to the 2012 R2 Windows Server.
  9. When asked if you are sure you wish to transfer the schema master role to a different computer, click yes.
  10. Once the schema master is successfully transferred, click OK to continue.
  11. Click Close to close the Change Schema Master window.
  12. In the MMC, click File > Exit.
  13. When asked to save the console, click No.

Once completed, open the Active Directory Users and Computers console to verify that the Active Directory database successfully replicated to your new Windows Server 2012 R2 computer.  Be aware that the database replication may take some time depending on the number of objects in Active Directory.

 Removing the 2003 Windows Server from the Global Catalog Server

  1. Open Active Directory Sites and Services on your new Windows Server 2012 R2 computer.
  2. Expand the Sites folder, then the Default-First-Site-Name folder, then the Servers folder.
  3. Expand both listed servers. One should be your new Windows Server 2012 R2 and one should be your  Windows Server 2003.
  4. Right click NTDS Settings found under your old 2003 Windows Server.
  5. In the sub menu, select Properties.
  6. Under the General Tab, unselect Global Catalog and then click the Apply button.
  7. Click OK to continue.
  8. Close the Active Directory Sites and Services window.
  9. Verify that your new 2012 R2 Windows Server is running the FSMO role by opening the command prompt in Administrative view and running the following command: Netdom query fsmo.
  10. In the Network and Sharing Center, be sure to change the Preferred DNS server to match the Alternate DNS server, then delete the IP address listed under the Alternate DNS server should it currently be pointed to the old 2003 Windows Server.

All that’s left is to demote the old 2003 Windows server by first adding the new 2012 R2 Windows Server as the Primary DNS, followed by running DCPROMO (which is deprecated in Server 2012) to demote the old 2003 Windows server.

As I stated earlier, this is a basic guide to help you understand what to expect during a Windows Server upgrade. As always, please post your comments and questions below or email me directly.


Ryan Ash


Ryan Ash
Network Consultant


©Custom Systems Corporation 2014


Time to Upgrade to XenDesktop and XenApp 7.5?

Part 1: XenApp

In this two-part series, I will be discussing the options necessary in making a decision to upgrade XenDesktop and XenApp 7.5. In this first part, we’ll discuss the features and benefits of XenApp.

XenApp CitrixA few of my clients have asked whether they should upgrade to the latest versions of XenApp and XenDesktop. In fact, this is a quandary that comes up every time there is a new release of a product.  Every environment is different; therefore there is no one-size-fits-all answer.  What works for one client does not always work for another.  So, we need to look at some of the factors that go into this decision.  Since both products serve different purposes, I am going to discuss each product separately.  If you are looking to upgrade your XenApp environment or your XenDesktop environment separate from the other, you are not required to upgrade both of them at the same time.  Let’s look at XenApp today. I’ll try to touch on what seem to be the major factors I have dealt with. Please feel free to post any questions you might have below.

At the time of this article, the latest version number for both XenApp and XenDesktop is 7.5.  In version 7.0, both technologies were included under the XenDesktop title and were both integrated into one console.  XenApp was referred to as ‘XenDesktop App Edition’.  XenApp has been given its own licensing from XenDesktop again due to a number of factors, but they are still both integrated into the same console.  XenDesktop still integrates XenApp as a feature in the licensing.  The reverse is not true though.  If you purchase XenApp only licenses, you do not get XenDesktop included.  For the sake of simplicity, I am just going to refer to it as XenApp even if I am referring to version 7.0.

So, what are some of the major decision points for XenApp?

Upgrade or migration

Can you do an in-place upgrade or do you have to build a new farm and migrate to it?  If you have XenApp 7.0 or 7.1, you can perform an in-place upgrade to XenApp 7.5.  If you have XenApp 6.5 or lower, you will need to migrate to a new environment.  There are some tools to help with this, but it is still a migration.

Deciding factors:

  • Is an in-place upgrade possible for you?
  • Do you have the resources (time, hardware, software, licenses, money, etc…) to perform a migration?

Operating System

What operating systems are supported by each version?  XenApp 7.x is only available for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012.  Both are only 64-bit.  XenApp 6.5 and lower support Windows Server 2008 R2 and earlier (including both 64-bit and 32-bit versions).

Deciding factors:

  • Software compatibility – will my software operate on Windows 2008 R2 and/or Server 2012?  If not, I will need separate environments to host updated software and legacy software.  If you have software that needs to run on Server 2012, then you must utilize XenApp 7.x.
  • Do I have licensing for the newer operating systems?  Just because you have licenses for Server 2003 and 2008, does not mean you have licenses for Server 2012.
  • Do I have the expertise on the newer operating system?  Windows Server 2012 has a significantly different interface from previous server operating systems.  Applications and utilities are not where they used to be and are likely to be configured in a completely new fashion.  Remote Desktop Services is significantly different.


XenApp 7.x utilizes the latest Citrix architecture called FlexCast Management Architecture (FMA).  XenApp 6.5 and lower utilize Independent Management Architecture (IMA).

Deciding factors:

  • FMA enhances security and resource utilization/performance.  Pair that with the greater performance of Remote Desktop Services on the latest 64-bit operating systems and you are going to get better utilization of your resources.
  • IMA is a more mature product.  IMA has had the major kinks knocked out of it over time.  FMA is still relatively new and is still getting some major issues resolved.
  • FMA does not offer all the features we are used to from IMA.  Features we are used to with IMA either do not exist in FMA, are still in development, or require new methods to perform the same task.  For instance, SmartAuditor is gone and you will need an alternative.  Shadowing is gone, but MS Remote Assistance is utilized instead.  Single farm, multi-site support is relatively non-existent.  Session pre-launch and session lingering are still in development for FMA.
  • FMA does not use a local host cache.  If the database goes off-line, then so does the XenApp farm.  Existing connections will still operate, but there will be no new connections.  This means that XenApp HA (High Availability) is now dependent on the HA features you incorporated into your SQL server farm.  If HA of your SQL farm is not where you need it, then that also plays into your upgrade decision.

Other factors that may affect your decision:

  • Do you have the technical knowledge on the latest version of XenApp or will you need help?  XenApp 7.x is very different from previous versions of XenApp in implementation, configuration, and administration.
  • Is there a corporate policy/requirement forcing you to upgrade/migrate?
  • Web Interface support has been reinstated for XenApp 7.x, so that can still be utilized if StoreFront is not an option.  This is significant for many reasons.  One important reason is that StoreFront requires a NetScaler for secure external connections.  If you do not have a NetScaler configuration in your environment, you will need another solution for external access besides StoreFront.

As you can see, this is one of those times when an upgrade decision isn’t that simple. Can the same be said for XenDesktop 7.5?  I’ll let you know what I think in part 2 of this post. As always, please post any questions you might have below. Thanks!




Sr. Network Consultant




© 2014 Custom Systems Corporation

Time for Windows Server 2003 End-Of-Life Plan

Windows 2003In previous posts, we’ve described the necessity to upgrade your Windows XP PCs to either Windows 7 or Windows 8.  Today, we are going to discuss the server side of the house.

Microsoft will stop supporting Server 2003 R2 on July 14, 2015.  I know a year can sound far away and over the horizon, but it isn’t – especially when it comes to servers.  A migration from one server to another can either take a few days or several weeks – depending on your infrastructure.   For example, migrating a file server from 2003 to 2008 is fairly straight forward – especially with the help of  Backup/Restore software like Backup Exec.  Backup Exec remembers things like file permissions, so we can backup your data from your old server, and then restore it to the new server.

If you have shared printers on your network, this part of the migration can be a bit more involved.  Not every printer manufacturer will support installing their printers in a 2008 64-bit environment – but we would investigate this for you before we begin the migration.  If your printers are not supported on a 2008 server, it may be time to upgrade those as well.

Support for Exchange 2003 server ended back in January 2008.  Exchange 2007 ‘mainstream support’ ended  April 2012, with extended support ending April 2017.  If you are still using Exchange 2003 or 2007, you should move to a new server immediately.  Custom Systems has done several migrations from 2003 to 2007, and up to Exchange 2010, so we have a clear path to follow.  We have also migrated a few clients from an on-site Exchange Server to Office 365 hosted email, depending on client need.

If you are using your servers to host applications, like Quickbooks or other third-party vendors, a migration from your old server to a new server gets more complicated.  We may need to get the software vendor involved in the process.  Make sure you have access to the latest version of your Applications before trying to move to a new server.  In some cases, we may even need to migrate to a new software product if the older product is no longer supported.

As always, and we would be happy to provide you with a free Network Assessment. Call or click today!


AZS-4Chase Reitter
Network Consultant


The True Cost of Windows XP Replacement

In a previous blog, Do I need to replace Windows XP we discussed how to know if this is necessary. Now, let’s discuss actual replacement costs.


Are you planning to upgrade your Windows XP Pro PCs with Windows 7 or 8?  Have you looked closely at the true cost of an upgrade in a business environment? The typical Internet price of $139.99 for a full copy of Windows 7 or 8 Professional is the easiest part of the upgrade cost to swallow.  Remember, Microsoft no longer offer “Upgrades” for an operating system so you are purchasing a new full license.   Let’s look more closely into the real world costs.

Does your PC have a modern 64-bit processor with at least two cores and sufficient memory to run Windows 7/8 efficiently?  If you have a Pentium or Celeron processor it’s time to responsibly dispose of the PC or donate it to charity.

If you have less than 2GB of RAM plan on another $50 to $100 for a memory upgrade or you will become very familiar with the perpetual spinning circle cursor that has replaced the hourglass cursor in Windows XP while you wait for every task to complete.

Assuming your Windows XP Pro PC has 100GB or more of free disk space… let’s move over to the software side of the upgrade.

Step 1 Create a list of the applications you are currently using.  Most likely you will be using Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, and a legacy application specific to your industry.  Office 2007 or better is required for compatibility, if you are still running Office 2003 or older, plan on another $200 or more for Office 2013 depending on the edition you select.

Step 2 Begin collecting all the drivers that your PC will require once you replace the operating system.  I would specifically look for Windows 7/8 drivers for Printers and other devices such as scanners, bar code readers, magnetic card readers and other industry specific peripherals.  You don’t want to take the time to do this upgrade and realize you can no longer swipe credit cards at a Point-of-Sale terminal or use your Warehouse bar code scanners after you do the upgrade.

Step 3 Backup any user specific data on the Windows XP PC.  User profiles, local data, license keys and serial numbers of locally installed applications.

Now we’re ready to move forward forward.  Boot from the Windows 7/8 CD and delete the entire XP Pro partition, reformat the drive, and install your fresh copy of Windows 7/8.  Allow 30 to 45 minutes depending on the speed of the PC.

Time for Windows Updates… settle back and run the 100+ Windows updates to secure the system, install your anti-virus solution, re-install Microsoft Office and your legacy applications, restore the user profile and local data.  Install the drivers for your printers and other peripherals and reconnect everything.  Now run Windows Updates again and return the PC to the user.

The entire process from start-to-finish will require 4 to 6 hours depending on the speed of the PC, your Internet connection for Windows Updates, and the amount of data you need to back up and restore for the individual user data.

The total cost of the upgrade is typically $140 to $250 in software and memory.  Assuming market rates for labor in your area are similar to our area, plan on $250 to $350 labor per computer for a total cost of $400 to $600 to bring an old PC up to Windows 7/8.

An alternative to upgrading, is to replace an outdated PC with a new business grade, pre-loaded Windows 7/8 desktop PC for $500 or a laptop for $600 to $700, with at least a one-year warranty.  From a time perspective, open the box, install your applications and issue to the user — one to two hours.

With these costs in mind, now you can understand why the Windows XP upgrade cycle is a windfall for service providers that focus on Windows XP to Windows 7/8 upgrades.  PC replacement is always a better long term solution from a cost and performance perspective.

Still not sure? Let Custom Systems provide a free assessment to determine your “True Cost” to replace Windows XP Pro. Call us today at 800-539-3523.
Paul R. Cook
Paul R. Cook
Vice President, Network Services Group



© Copyright 2014 Custom Systems Corporation

Do I need to replace Windows XP in my network?

I am sure by now everyone has heard that Microsoft will end all support and updates for Windows XP in just over a month.  The IT Press is full of articles of doom and gloom similar to the Y2K predictions that were made by many back in 1999.  Well I have some good news and some bad… and what YOU need to do as you make a decision for your organization.

Good News:

Windows XP will continue to work on any computer in its current state.

Bad News:

There will be no additional Security Updates and Fixes to correct new threats that are discovered.

What can you do?

First, identify how this will impact your business.

Take an inventory of Windows XP PCs and divide them into two groups. Group 1 are those PCs used daily on your network to access the Internet for web access or Internet communication.  These PCs should be immediately targeted for replacement.  Group 2 are those PCs that have some other purpose such as controllers for machinery, dedicated PCs that run equipment or processes such as CAD, estimating, or other business processes that DO NOT use the web or Internet.  My recommendation is that you can continue to use these PCs for the lifetime of the PC hardware.

The last decision to make is based upon your installed Anti-Virus security products used on Windows XP.

Ask your security vendors such as Symantec and Trend Micro, how long they will continue to issue signature updates for products installed on Windows XP.  This should be the last possible date you continue to use a Windows XP Computer that will have any access to the Internet.

Next week we will look at the true cost of Windows XP replacement… it may surprise you that a new operating system such as Windows 7 or Windows 8 is the least expensive part of an upgrade.

Paul R. Cook
Paul R. Cook
Vice President, Network Services Group