Peter von Oven – Founder & Chief Technology Officer
The holiday season is now well and truly behind us and as we enter a new decade we are again faced with a familiar issue, the end of life of an operating system. This time it’s Windows 7 but it doesn’t seem that long ago that we were facing April 8, 2014, the date when Microsoft ended the extended support of the Windows XP operating system. In fact, some are yet to even move from Windows XP, let alone having to worry about Windows 7. For the them that jump just became an awful lot bigger.
So, what are your options?
The first option is to do nothing. Bury your head in the sand and just carry on running Windows 7 and ignore the risk of being unsupported with no security updates should anything go wrong with Windows 7. Keeping your fingers crossed that you don’t get hacked or your systems become compromised due to no longer being patched or updated is not really an option. Ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away never works in my experience. In fact, it usually makes the whole thing a whole lot worse in the long run! Remember the saying “prevention is better than cure”? This is further compounded by the fact that organisations can now be fined for not running on updated, secured, or protected devices with Cyber Essentials from the National Cyber Security Centre (part of GCHQ).
What is holding migration back?
The question you need to ask is why people are not migrating from Windows XP and Windows 7 to Windows 10? That question has a single word answer – applications! Quite simply the apps that are currently running on Windows 7 and Windows XP do not, and will not, run on Windows 10. After all, it’s the apps that are needed to perform a job role and not the operating system.
Of course, apps can be modernised by rewriting/refactoring them or even moving to a SaaS-based model, but that is not always possible due to the cost, time frames involved, and the fact that the app is perfectly usable and is fit for purpose, so why change it? In fact, I would go as far as to say that these are not legacy apps at all as they are often referred to, but, in actual fact, are business critical apps. They just happen to be somewhat older and therefore do not run on the latest operating system.
Are there really that many older apps still out there running?
Short answer, yes! And more than you think there is, with even more about to be added to the list with the end of Windows 7 extended support. But the question is will these apps run on Windows 10 anyway. The answer typically, as shown in the screenshot below, is a resounding no!
The reason why? Exactly as I’ve outlined above. These apps have a dependency on an older OS as that maybe the only version that runs a particular Java plug-in for example. Maybe you still need an older version of Internet Explorer. If you have these requirement then these apps cannot be moved or migrated to a new OS version.
How does Droplet Computing solve the migration issue?
Droplet Computing delivers an end user focused container solution, enabling legacy and modern apps to run securely on Windows 10 devices – all without the complexity and costs of VDI and application virtualization. Not only can these containerized legacy and modern apps run on Windows 10, but as apps are now portable, they can also run on macOS and Linux, all without needing to be changed or updated in order to do so.
Droplet Computing containers are delivered via the container app, a small executable that gets installed on the end point device and takes minutes to complete. Or it can be deployed using standard deployment tools. The apps you need to run reside in the container image. This too can be deployed to the end points using standard tools and is literally a case of copying it with no installation or configuration required. Everything is pre-configured by IT admins before deployment.
In the case of migrating from Windows XP or Windows 7 to Windows 10, take the XP or 7 apps and install them as you would normally, but in this case install them into the container image. Then the image file can be deployed to the end points.
Considering moving to VDI or some form of DaaS solution?
Often, when looking at an operating system migration project, it’s an ideal opportunity for organizations to look at alternative ways of delivering desktop computing services to end users. This could be a virtual desktop solution, such as VMware Horizon or Citrix Virtual Desktops or an application publishing solution using Microsoft RDS or Citrix Virtual Apps. Given the propensity to move to the cloud, solutions such as Amazon WorkSpaces or Microsoft WVD can also be considered.
That’s all well and good, but most of these virtual or cloud-based desktop services all typically only support modern operating systems. So, we are back to square one with the legacy apps situation. This often prevents an organization from taking advantage of consuming this type of end user computing solution because, again, the apps won’t run in these environments.
Droplet Computing containers run on a modern OS regardless of whether that OS runs on a physical end point or a virtual instance of the OS. Containers can run offline, locally on the end point, but equally they can run online too! We call it semi-connected.
Containers will even run in multi-user environments, allowing containers to be published to end users in a server-based computing environment, with containers being either fully-stateless or persistent using standard environment management tools. This removes any barriers to migrating from an older operating system regardless of how you deploy it.
No more migration headaches
By containerizing apps within a Droplet Computing container makes the app portable, secure, and takes away the dependencies on the underlying host operating system. This means if you change the underlying OS it will not affect the applications running within the container. You can even change the OS completely and deploy the container, unchanged, to a device running Linux or macOS.