Microsoft has taken double stands in regards to Windows XP support price. The software giant has, one hand, pulled the plug on support for Windows XP and on other hand, it provides Windows XP security patches to big corporate houses which are always ready to pay a handsome amount to avail the service.
In the last month, Microsoft made a substantial reduction in price. On April 8 – the same day when Microsoft withdrew their support for Windows XP – Gartner released a research note, which is available to only the subscribers. It said, on the basis of some of its clients’ reports, Microsoft was reducing the highest price for customer support. Gartner has words of advice for its clients, who are in need of XP patches, “to go through Custom Support Agreement plans for risk reduction and potential cost”.
In accordance with estimation by Gartner, 20-25 percent of enterprise systems are still using Windows XP. For enterprise customers, the reason for their sticking with XP is they have custom peripherals or applications to make migration complex and difficult. In 2012, Gartner said they were informed by some of their customers that Microsoft was charging in the region of $5 million for extended Windows XP support coverage. However, Gartner also added that the cost was reduced to nearly $2 million (maximum).
Microsoft is getting cautious with regards to Windows XP. Officials are unwilling to look like they are, once again, extending their support deadline for the 13-year old OS. But a lot of large and high-profile shops still prefer Windows XP. If these customers encounter security issues, which Microsoft patches could have easily solved, Microsoft will not be considered a good guy. Even after a considerable reduction in max price level, Custom Support Agreements are primarily intended for the large enterprise houses. That gives a clear hint that it is still not meant for the small wigs in business field or individual customers who want to run their system on Windows XP.
It is worth a mention that there is a limit – limit of time – which is yet to be disclosed by Microsoft as to how long the company will provide XP patches to the users who are shelling out for CSA coverage. And the customers, who want to avail CSA coverage, must have proper migration plans in place with a deadline for project completion and quarterly deployment milestones.
Application sharing and virtualization underwent a makeover in Windows Server 2008 R2 to make it easier to access remote application and overall administration. The users working on Windows 7 platform can now access remote applications – via RDWA or Remote Desktop Web Access feature – through a folder in Start menu. The users who are running other Windows versions can also enjoy an access to these applications through a secure webpage.
These applications are installed and managed in a single place whereas access to them can be set for different user classes. Client machine configuration is a snap or involves a simple matter of providing a SSL web URL. These apps’ look and feel prompts the users to think these are locally installed and can be run along with other local applications without any problem.
The remote App suite in 2008 R2 refers to an update of the Terminal Services Remote App suite in the older versions of Windows Server. These updates have launched more options to allow more control over access to the hosted apps. When the users log in to Remote App through RDWA, they are either represented with a virtual Windows desktop which, to the users, look and feel like they are using the apps on a standard desktop or with a list of applications which are specific to each class of users by privileges of account.
The virtual desktop can either be assigned dynamically from a slew of standard template desktops or be exclusive for every user (full customization by each is allowed). It is possible to administer all the hosted apps on a single server through either of the ways but that does not mean they will be visible to all users.
Remote applications can cut down complexity and cost in several situations. Local IT support is limited in several places, especially the branch offices. In those cases, RDWA reduces a considerable amount of time spent in deployment and maintenance of software on clients’ machines. Customer apps or “Legacy Applications” which have been considered a bane due to their crabby character can now be easily installed and administered in a single location. If updates are pushed once, they will be instantly available for every user across the enterprise.
In an IT environment where cubical “hotelling” or “hot desk” is in play, access configuration for a unique virtual desktop provides look and feel of the home office, irrespective of home location. If the business environment is dynamic, the users are able to access enterprise apps and it enhances their productivity. The updated version also enhances document control as all files are in one location.