There are a number of things I hold onto from my past, but my operating system isn’t one of them. Microsoft Windows XP was released in the fall of 2001 and has had a good long run, its support from Microsoft ends April 8, 2014. Support for Office 2003 ends at the same time.

Windows7 was released in the summer of 2009. We are now 4 years into Windows7 and almost a year into Windows8.

Desktop management is one of the, if not the, most expensive costs to an IT department today. Your desktop needs constant care and feeding. Desktops never sit idle.

As part of my role at Navantis team members and I have strategy conversations around what I refer to as the Desktop LifeCycle. How a company brings in new desktop, how it’s cared for during day to day use (apps being updated, patches applied), and then how it’s eventually migrated to the next version.

So when I start to talk to a client about plans for their Windows and Office upgrades, I end up with a number of reasons or blockers, as I refer to them, to why they are stalled.

There are two main blockers I hear consistently around why a client hasn’t migrated to the next version of an operating system yet (besides cost of the project of course).

 

Compatibility; Application, Hardware and Browser

Many clients have older or legacy applications that they are concerned will not be supported by a new operating system. Fear of the unknown too many times becomes the blocker of what to do next.

You cannot build a plan if you do not have the facts. Without an accurate inventory of what you own in your environment, you will not be able to gauge how much of a concern compatibility is.

There are free tools from Microsoft such as MAP (Microsoft Assessment and Planning) that take an inventory of your assets and help guide you through a first round review. The tool helps you with work through the first 80% of your applications. You can than spend time on the 20% that can have a big impact on your migration.

MAP uses the inventory it built and compares it to a database that Microsoft keeps current of compatibility status of hardware, applications and browsers. The report can be output to a spreadsheet that you can further drill down into.

The Microsoft OMPM is a similar tool for migrating your older version of Office. The tool scans through your Office legacy versions and scans for potential conversion issues. It also scans for macro compatibility issues as well. The output can be reviewed in a spreadsheet for further analysis.

So at some point in the process you end up with a small list of applications that simply will not run on Windows 7/8; now what? You still have several options:

  • Isolate the Application by running it via a Terminal Server or Citrix type instance. You are essentially taking the application off the desktop and having it run from a server.
  • Another method of dealing with these applications is by virtualizing the application with Microsoft App-V software.

Microsoft App-V is our number one way of dealing with application compatibility. You are putting a bubble around the application and its components.

The application is packaged and installed on each machine to run in its own bubble. To the end user they see no difference in how it operates; connected or disconnected to the office. It is far more effective than running a virtual desktop. This method guarantees that each of your bubbled applications will co-exist with each other.

App-V cuts down on all your testing time as well. Each application set is separated from each other so you can now run multiple versions of Access, etc if you like.

App-V is one of those great products that is not well known, and is a great way to move a desktop deployment forward. Feel free to reach out to me to talk about App-V if you want further information.

 

Client Adoption or “It’s Different than what we have today”

Moving an organization from the way it did things one day to a new interface can feel like an uphill battle. IT Help Desk and Administrator staff …

You need to jump on this early in your planning. If you are still running XP, then there is a good portion of your populous at work already running Windows 7/8 at home; same goes for versions of Office and IE.

For many of you with Microsoft Enterprise Agreements (EA’s) you have access to many things that can help the adoption and training gaps.

ELearning is available to every one of your users who can, at their own pace, participate in online training. There is a large library of content that you can put in front of your users to access.

At home use rights is an EA feature that allows you to provide a very low cost copy of software such as Office. You could provide Office to your employees to take home and get used to well before your migration starts.

There are many things we work with you on to help enable your client adoption goals.

Like the first rule of moving; you move the big items first. Build the Application Compatibility and Client Adoption aspects into your plan upfront; not as an afterthought.

 

How you deployed XP is not the way you deploy Windows 7/8 and Office

The operating system has evolved, and so have the tools and ways that you deploy it.

In the past IT used to build what was deemed the “gold image”. What started out as a single image with everything packed into it; all the drivers, the typical user applications, security and GPO setting, etc. That is not how you build and deploy Windows 7/8 today.

There are new best practices and approaches that have been devised to make your life easier after you deploy that first set of images. Creating the image is a one time thing, the care and feeding of that image is where your cost and time come into further play.

XP was launched over a decade ago, we cannot use decade old concepts to build our Desktop LifeCyle management.

 

Desktop Deployment Projects aka the Career Killers

Each year I see half a dozen or so new CIO’s in my day to day dealings at Navantis. During the first two years of a new operating system release that number goes up. Why?

Some kind of bad desktop rollout, that’s why.

When you have a project that touches every single desktop in your environment, it has risk. Risk to the business, risk to the end users, and risk to your own career. Desktop deployment projects can make or break careers. I’ve seen it for more than 20 years now.

When I see a new CIO, most of the time that person has the job because the last CIO had a “challenged rollout”. How motivated is the new CIO going to be to do their first rollout?

It does not have to be that way, keep reading.

 

The Navantis Deployment Factory

The Deployment Factory is a set of people, process and technology that helps organizations build a desktop lifecycle solution.

We bring our extensive team and experience to you to help you deliver on your desktop migration strategy. We can take it from “I don’t know where to start”, to “I need help building my image”, or “these apps won’t work with windows 7”.

Whatever the blockers are, Navantis can work through them with you. We have a program that delivers predictable results for your desktop lifecycle needs.

As an extension to our Deployment Factory, our Managed Desktop Services can take care of all the day to day support of your systems. We can manage all your application deployment and updates, along with the monthly patching process. We have a plan for clients of every size.

Most clients know they need to do something to move their desktop lifecycle management along. Some simply need us to fill in some of the blanks, some are just not sure where to start.

Wherever you are with your desktops, start with a phone call or email to us.

Andy can be reached at 416.477.5711 or [email protected]

 

Desktop Governance