Migrating Your Windows XP Applications: Five Tips

Eric Bruno
Eric Bruno

Windows XP has reached end-of-life, with end-of-support due April 8, 2014. To ensure against data loss, migrate your Windows XP applications now. Here are five tips:

Tip 1: Use Windows toolkits

The Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) is a collection of tools to help you customize and deploy Windows 8 across more than one computer. I recommend moving to Windows 8 (more on that later) but there's also a version for Windows 7 if that's your choice. The tools assess your Windows XP installations, inventory applications, report any trouble spots (i.e. compatibility issues), and then create upgrade images.

The Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) helps you understand compatibility issues. Use it to create prioritized lists of issues that you need to address, along with a plan to automate the testing of your applications. It saves time and reduces risk.

The Windows Performance Toolkit (WPT) helps you analyze key performance metrics within your application, such as GUI responsiveness. It includes Windows Performance Recorder, Xperf for deep profiling your applications, and the Windows Performance Analyzer to help you know where to focus your efforts.

Tip 2: Don't forget about files and file systems.

Part of the Windows ADK, the Windows User State Migration Tool helps you migrate application and user data from Windows XP to your new Windows installation seamlessly. You can specify the data sets to be migrated along with the data that can be excluded. This tool reduces risk of data loss, focusing on critical user account data, OS configuration data, and application settings.

Tip 3: Migrate your Visual Studio projects.

You'll probably need to upgrade your development tools, keeping in mind that the format of Visual Studio project files has changed over the years. You may need to work with Microsoft or a specialist to migrate your older projects (i.e. moving from .vcproj files to .vcxproj). Additionally, you may need to migrate to .Net, a newer version of .Net, or a managed language such as C# from unmanaged C/C++ code.

Tip 4: Mobile users need to be migrated too.

In addition to the Visual Studio tools to move code to the newest mobile Windows OS, Microsoft offers a device buyback and trade-in program. Along with the cost savings and discounts offered through the program, other areas of interest to IT are the bulk device resetting and hard drive erasing services. This saves time and money and gives you peace of mind that your critical data won't fall into the wrong hands.

Tip 5: Remember your users.

Create a user migration and readiness guide to prepare users for their new application and operating system experience. It should include:

  • A User Tip Sheet covering common issues.
  • An email campaign: Beginning before the migration is takes place, tell users of what to expect, along with reassurances. Then follow up with tips and answers after the migration.
  • Training toolkits: Prepare a list of FAQs, step-by-step instructions, and possibly a video explainer.

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