A staggering 38.7 per cent of companies still haven’t migrated to Windows 7 and 8, according to MarketShare. That means come Wednesday April 9th 2014 millions of workers could be sat down at their desks ready to start work, but find something’s gone wrong.

Considering why such a high number of companies have not completed the migration from Windows XP, it is likely that some have been faced with far more complexity and technical challenge than was originally expected. Organisations are now struggling to wade through the obstacles and complete on time. Others have simply deemed it too lengthy, complicated or costly a project.

The challenge here is that the project will only get bigger with each new version of Windows; it is already estimated that a migration from Windows XP to Windows 8 will take an additional five per cent of time, cost and effort compared to a migration from Windows XP to Windows 7.

Organisations that are behind schedule or have simply left it late might be tempted to adopt a ‘lift and shift’ approach to the migration; taking everything they have and delivering the same environment on the new operating system. While this may appear like the fastest and most low-cost option, it is often anything but. It’s true that migration projects can be overwhelming, time-consuming and have cost implications, but there are huge potential risks for companies that have not fully migrated from Windows XP by the April 8th, 2014 deadline.

The key to a successful migration is a detailed analysis of software usage; understanding the who, what, when, where and how of every single application being used, as well as identifying those apps that are never used.

The experience of our customer base tells us that up to 50 per cent of companies’ apps are never used. More significantly, many of the apps that are incompatible with Windows 7 or Windows 8 are those that are never used. So while IT departments could be reducing the app portfolio by half, they could also be reducing app compatibility challenges by upwards of 75 per cent.

Furthermore, work with Windows XP migration project managers at global organisations, has revealed the following app usage statistics:

  • Between 75 to 95 per cent of the apps that are incompatible with Windows 7 are not used
  • Up to 90 per cent of total apps are used less than 10 per cent of the time
  • 50 per cent of apps are not used at all
  • Unused apps cost companies an average of £350 per desktop
  • Typically over 20 per cent of installed apps compatible with Windows XP are not compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Emphasising this, a recent survey found that 81 per cent of European IT professionals admitted to their networks holding unused apps. And findings from Dell and Forrester, report that 44 per cent of IT decision makers think that they would save money due to a better understanding of their app libraries.

Once an IT department is in possession of this kind of detailed software usage information then it can remove all the apps that are unused or incompatible from the project scope. This provides a much clearer and less daunting picture of where to start.

So IT can significantly reduce the burden and cost involved in typical corporate desktop migration projects, but where does it begin? Implementing the following suggested steps should help remove the risks, and deliver migration projects on time and on budget.

  1. Understand exactly which apps are used. Not just the top 30 or 40, but every single app; including web apps and those delivered through virtualisation technologies.
  2. Understand the dependencies between apps, plug-ins and batch files. A user’s experience is in seeing an entire process work – this can often mean more than one app or executable being used.
  3. Rationalise the app portfolio. Only take forward the apps that are being used, standardising on a couple of versions as you go. This will also significantly reduce app compatibility issues.

If your migration project looks too complex, too lengthy or too large for your budget, think again – there is another way. Taking these steps will enable you to dramatically streamline, accelerate and reduce the cost of the migration – and most importantly make that crucial April 8th 2014 deadline.