How licencing knowledge can mitigate the cost of Windows XP’s retirement

Despite being over a decade old, Windows XP remains the king of the OSs. In fact, according to a straw poll of our own customers, 74% of their computers still run it. But despite living to a ripe old age, XP’s days are finally numbered, as Microsoft will officially end support for the OS on 8th April 2014. While this is quite some time away, and XP will no doubt keep on ticking for some time after April, it would be wise to begin preparing for life without it now.

This is because the significant cost of upgrading every machine to Windows 8 is only one side of the story. The biggest expense will come from ensuring that third party apps stay compatible with Windows 8, and the challenge will be knowing exactly how much this will cost before you pull the plug on XP. This is where detailed licencing knowledge could save you a lot of money.

1st step – understand your current Microsoft Effective Licence Position (ELP)

You must understand your current (ELP) in relation to all Microsoft desktop software. This will guarantee that you maximise the consumption of your existing licence entitlement whilst significantly reducing your future licencing bill. You don’t need us to tell you that License Dashboard can help you with this.

2nd step – determine the upgrade path

The next challenge is determining the most cost-effective upgrade path for your OS and desktop products. This may seem to be a bit of a minefield; particularly if you have lost sight of your existing ELP (see step 1).

For most small to medium organisations, Windows 8 Professional will be the most widely deployed edition. Upgrading to Windows 8 Professional for no extra charge is possible if the computers in question are covered by Software Assurance (SA) (via a Microsoft Volume Licencing Agreement (VLA)) because SA includes New Version Rights.

If you do not have SA, then it gets more complicated. One option would be to leverage upgrade licences. If the organisation can provide evidence that their existing PCs have qualifying operating systems installed, Windows 8 Pro upgrade licences may be purchased through the company’s existing VLA, which will further reduce the financial commitments.

Different challenges face larger organisations, particularly those that are looking to upgrade to Windows 8 Enterprise edition. Windows Enterprise may be considered the most suitable edition, however, it is important to realise that this is only available as a benefit of SA and cannot be purchased outside of this scenario.

3rd step – stay on top of it

Handling an OS transition is yet another reason for organisations to manage their ELP’s on an on-going basis. Refreshing desktops is a perfect time to review how you purchase your licence entitlements as you may find that alternative VLAs save you money. But in an ideal world you won’t wait for the death of an OS before you realise this…

Planning and implementing a migration strategy takes time, especially if you haven’t done the groundwork in advance. So, do you think your company is ready? Have you already completed your analysis? Did you find any savings along the way? If so, please share your experience in the comments below.

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Ben Eagling

Ben Eagling

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