XP to Windows 7 Migration in Schools

Posted by : Rob Stevens | Sunday, April 03, 2011 | Published in

I've been doing a fair amount of rolling out of new systems recently, both OS X and Windows based. While the OS X based stuff has been an interesting look at a reasonably recent and up to date operating system (10.6), it occurred to me that the Microsoft side of things was the same old irritating process of fighting with Windows XP that I've been doing for God knows how long. With Windows 7 now at nearly 2 years old and boasting a full service pack, is it not time for us to ditch an increasingly clunky 10 year old operating system and start making our school domain environments work with the newer technology?

I know this is a fairly well looked at point of discussion with plenty of documentation covering it, but I was thinking about how the various arguments affect my own situation.

A large amount of what's stopping this will be the time and effort that would be involved in safely testing the effects of managing Windows 7 systems from the existing infrastructure. I realise that time is not always available to do these sort of things. Unfortunately things may well reach a stage where that excuse won't run any more and it just has to be done. Hopefully the schools will do this for us. A lot of the existing servers really need replacing - A good chance to get some decent Server 2008 R2 boxes in there and start upgrading.

The next problem to be looked into will be the running of legacy software. A lot of schools continue to use very old software. Sometimes it's because their license only covers them for a particular version and they don't want to pay to upgrade. In other cases it's software titles that are very good, but are no longer being maintained. Can Windows 7 run this stuff straight out of the box? Or are we going to have to spend ages building virtual machines and installing software in XP Mode? Which would kind of defeat the point of this and would also spoil my argument somewhat... We're in a bit of a Catch 22 situation where the software maintainers haven't fully gotten around to making their products Windows 7 compatible because the vast majority of the schools that buy from them still use XP, but the schools won't use an operating system that won't run their software.

It's a difficult call to make. Do we force the schools to come up to date, but possibly make them ditch some software in the process? Do we continue with the venerable Windows XP and all of its inherent bugs and security flaws? Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with XP. It is a brilliant OS for it's time and it has stood the test of Microsoft's in ability to replace it well, but I believe that has now been done.

Glad it's not my decision to be honest.

I'm sure there will be some schools out there that have already done this. What was your experience of the switch?

Some documentation and guides I've looked at:

The Microsoft Windows 7 Upgrade & Migration Guide
Microsoft Tutorial: Upgrading from windows XP to Windows 7
How-To Geek: Migrate XP to Windows 7 with Easy Transfer and a USB Disk