During the opening keynote at XChange Solution Provider 2014 on Monday, March 3, 2014, Microsoft VP of US SMB and Distribution, Cindy Bates, told partners that by promoting Windows XP to Windows 7 migrations they are doing customers a disservice.
Bates accepted that customers are choosing to migrate from Windows XP to Windows 7, instead of Windows 8, but put the onus on Microsoft's partners instead of a clear decision by customers. Choosing to highlight a partner reluctance due to being 'unfamiliar' with Metro interface, Bates went on to suggest that all of the customer complaints about the original release are now fixed. With the release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft seems to believe that the fix was to allow customers to choose to boot to the old Windows interface instead of the modern UI.
Interestingly, the commentary on Windows 8 came in a keynote entitled, The Cloud-Powered Business, further emboldening Microsoft's intent to make all things about the Cloud:
In this session, Cindy Bates will define the Cloud-Powered Business, and how businesses of any size can be transformed by modernizing their infrastructure and productivity capabilities. Partners will walk away energized about the opportunity with Windows 8.1, how to approach customers in light of the looming end of support for Windows XP, and how to get the most from Microsoft’s hybrid cloud. From mobility to security and business insights capabilities, it’s a new era in business computing, and the opportunity for partners is huge.
Granted, Windows 8.1 is a vast improvement over the original release, taking some customer complaints into account. Windows 8.1 Update 1 goes even further by providing a better experience for normal, non-touchscreen Windows veterans. But, the changes simply aren't enough, and not soon enough, to halt migrations midstream. With Windows XP support expiring on April 8, 2014, there's not enough time for companies to revisualize their migration investments. The costs of moving from Windows XP to Windows 8 are much greater, primarily due to the need to retrain end-users on totally revamped interface. And, partners know this.
With 29 percent users still using Windows XP, it's more important now to just move and deal with another migration in a few years' time.