Windows XP's time is up. On April 8 2014, Microsoft will withdraw support for its much-used operating system (OS), offering no more regular patches or updates.

As a result, the security implications for businesses who do not upgrade to Windows 8.1 are huge. Hackers are likely to target XP as a weak entry point for attack and an influx of zero-day bugs are expected.

And after April, staying with XP will also be expensive. Enterprises who want to keep the operating system for another year could have to pay up to hundreds of pounds per PC, per year, to do so.

With up to 30 per cent of businesses still to upgrade, many enterprises are looking to migrate to Windows 8.1 - and fast. This is not an easy task: Microsoft estimates it can take up to 30 months for a firm to upgrade.

This is because migration to Windows 8.1 is not just about a new operating system: it is likely businesses will also need to refresh PCs. On top of this, firms face the task of migrating their enterprise XP apps to Windows 8.1.

How Windows 8.1 helps

In order to prepare for migration, enterprises should run an inventory and compatibility test their applications. This entails identifying all hardware, determining what must be replaced and what can be upgraded.


After that, firms can start to migrate files to Windows 8.1. The operating system's File History feature offers incremental backups on local volumes or to Microsoft's OneDrive. Meanwhile, most file formats can be viewed using Windows 8.1 once transferred.

However, it is not possible to move applications such as Microsoft Office from one PC to another: an enterprise must perform a new installation of these applications on the new system.

Meanwhile, by automating the migration process including the base image, OS settings, applications, user data migration, domain join, encryption, SMBs can reduce, or eliminate, the need for hands-on technicians - or even enable users to migrate themselves.

Dell Migration and Deployment Services

It is possible for migration to be easy, rapid and hassle-free. Firms can simplify the transition to Windows 8.1 with Dell Migration and Deployment Services, which address application, hardware and PC deployment readiness.

Dell’s help can be enlisted at any stage of the process, with the firm offering services such as planning, migration and education.

Using Dell Deployment Services and optimised Deployment mode, desktop setup time can be slashed by 88 percent and IT costs cut by up to 55 percent. Meanwhile, Dell’s cloud-based Client Deployment Manager helps track and manage the migration.

For firms looking to jump-start a new migration or fast-forward one already in progress, Dell offers a Windows Migration Fast Forward Service. The typical Windows Migration Fast Forward Service takes only 16 weeks, smoothly and quickly transitioning up to 5,000 client systems and five sites with a choice of modules including inventory, application rationalisation, compatibility testing, remediation, packaging and deployment.

Helpful software tools

Dell migration software addresses each phase of the upgrade, allowing firms to move over quickly and efficiently.

As part of this, Dell offers tools that automate deployment tasks. Pre- and post- deployment configuration tasks can be simplified through automated processes, increasing the efficiency of migration.

Using these tools, costs can be reduced with plug-and-play deployment and self-healing capabilities.

One such tool, Dell's ChangeBASE, allows firms to automate application compatibility testing, application remediation, application packaging and application virtualisation.

The tool makes it easy to find and fix compatibility issues by providing a wide range of reports. This allows enterprises to package applications quickly to get them up and running with minimal manual effort. It also simplifies ongoing maintenance dramatically.

Meanwhile, the Dell KACE K2000 Deployment Appliance offers a simple method of delivering a fully integrated systems provisioning solution. Features include centralised control with an intuitive web-based console, which allows one-click updates, and requires minimal training to use.

Windows XP will not be safe for much longer; it is now time to upgrade. With the help of Dell Migration Services, upgrading can be rapid, easy and hassle free - allowing enterprises to enjoy the benefits of Windows 8.1 in just 16 weeks.