Is it an IT vendor’s responsibility to help customers move from old systems to new ones? According to Net Applications, more than 29 percent of desktops were still running Windows XP in January 2014: With the XP support deadline nearing, this is a timely question.
Should Microsoft incentivize the cautious?
To help organizations move to newer products, software companies could offer discounts. Microsoft could give deals on Windows 8, particularly because PC World says those leaving XP are often going to Windows 7 rather than Windows 8. Unfortunately, if you do incentivize the slowpokes, this may be seen as penalizing your first adopters. How many of them will eagerly adopt the next version of your software?
Should the fear of being unsupported be incentive enough?
As you’ve probably noticed, Microsoft isn’t offering any “Get off XP” deals. Microsoft clearly believes the downsides to running unsupported and outdated software are reason enough. And those downsides matter: First you lose competitive advantage because you don’t have the features other organizations do. Perhaps more importantly, you lose security.
Why put customers in this situation?
Unfortunately, the choice isn’t just about whether you want to or not, it’s about whether you can. In this respect, Microsoft has left a lot of organizations in a bind. Many applications built for XP won’t run on anything else, and since upgrading software will likely require new hardware for many, Microsoft is asking a lot. Migrations of business-critical infrastructure can create significant pains. In 2010, Gartner estimated a migration from XP to Windows 7 could cost US$1,200 per machine or more. Large migrations in particular can incur costs such as your IT team’s time, consultant fees, the cost of new software, the cost of new hardware to run that software, and of course the loss of productivity during the disruptive migration period.
Balancing migration costs against security threats and lack of functionality is a difficult task. Maybe it’s one that IT companies shouldn’t put their customers in.
Here at Novell, we recently took a portion of our customers through an automatic upgrade. Over the years we have offered our Novell® ZENworks® products in an amazing number of suites and bundles. This made for a very confusing situation, with some customers paying for suites when half the products had long been laid to rest. We saw a chance to give these customers much better value, so we introduced the Novell ZENworks Suite and moved our customers there. They got more products, and it helps us offer more efficient and effective support. We saw this as our responsibility both to our customers and our organization.