When poor compatibility threatens a relationship

Hands up everyone who has ever put off a major decision. It’s in our nature to delay things—particularly tasks that aren’t going to be easy—like breaking up, moving on, or (stay with me) even migrating to Windows 10.

Okay, equating relationships ending with a Windows 10 migration may be stretching it a bit. But speak to many people in IT and you’ll learn that a migration to Windows 10 can be painful. Why? Compatibility issues, and the failure of business-critical applications to run in Microsoft’s latest-and-greatest operating system.

Affecting companies worldwide

Let’s put the compatibility problem into context. Imagine how many businesses there are in the world, counting the small ones too. Now imagine the number of niche applications—with much of the software written in-house—and the number of XP- or ISV-based systems running those businesses’ operations. Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Who knows? But those businesses can experience migration problems at multiple points: installing, updating, running or uninstalling applications.

50% experiencing compatibility issues

What I’m saying isn’t merely a scare tactic to sell virtual desktop infrastructure. These words are backed by our own research, which you can find in the Using VDI to power your Windows 10 migration white paper.

Independent market researchers spoke to IT decision makers across the US, UK, Germany and France. The aim was to get their thoughts and experiences on migrating to Windows 10. The researchers found that 50 percent of respondents have experienced compatibility issues with existing/legacy applications. In addition, 34 percent encountered logistical problems—meaning migrating remote offices—and the same percentage discovered that their hardware did not fulfil requirements for Windows 10 (34 percent). Small wonder, then, that more than a third of those questioned said they hadn’t fully migrated yet.

A tried-and-tested solution

VDI certainly has the power to help overcome compatibility issues along with logistical and hardware challenges for any Windows 10 migration.

The truth is that running a virtual machine is the safest way to continue using a legacy application in Windows 10 regardless of whether it’s XP- or ISV-based or written in-house. With VDI, IT administrators can test compatibility and easily roll back if incompatibility problems occur. Problems or not, the performance of other desktop applications is protected because testing goes on in an isolated virtualized desktop environment. Plus, whatever the outcome of the tests, administrators can always run the applications in the legacy XP or Windows 7 environments.

Worked before—can work again

There are plenty of examples of organizations that have overcome compatibility issues on previous migrations, for example to Windows 7, by taking the VDI route. One involving a leading UK university typifies the challenges and how VDI provides a great solution. The university had critical applications for estate management that the software vendor hadn’t updated. Simply put, they were not compliant with Windows 7. Centralizing the applications and running them in a VDI, removed a roadblock to full Windows 7 migration—as well as improving manageability—because the university could run the incompatible, legacy applications in a virtual environment supporting the old operating system. Both old and new applications ran in parallel without end users seeing any difference.  

Take some relationship counselling

What’s clear is that VDI saves organizations time and money when it comes to a Windows 10 migration. In fact, VDI does a great job at making compatibility issues disappear. And while the headline to my blog may be a bit disingenuous—I don’t think migration issues would cause a business to “break up” with Microsoft—the reality is that a bad migration could turn a happy marriage sour and put a damper on a long-standing relationship.


About the Author

Hagen Dommershausen

Hagen Dommershausen, Marketing Director, Dell Technologies. Hagen is a passionate spokesperson on end-user computing and workforce transformation technologies with a strong background in technology marketing, product management and marketing consulting.In his role as regional solution marketer he built a deep understanding of client virtualization helping customers, technology and channel partners to gain full benefit of it.

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