With Windows XP end of life on April 8, 2014, many companies are scrambling to find a way to migrate their offices to newer operating systems. Withan estimated 500 million computers still running Windows XP, getting everyone moved over to something more modern is a large undertaking. What is the best way to make the transition? It depends on your business needs. Here is how to choose a Windows migration strategy.

Greenfield Migration

If you have some capital available, and your office machines are beginning to show their age, your organization should consider a greenfield migration. Under this strategy, you back up all critical files and information, then scrap your aging computers and replace them with new ones with a more modern operating system installed. This is a clean sweep migration that lets you address multiple issues in one move.

Advantages of the greenfield migration include significantly improved performance, less need for technical know-how, and less chance of something going wrong.

Disadvantages of the greenfield migration revolve primarily around cost. This is the costliest migration option, and will require you to purchase not only the new machines, but also new copies of the software your company ran on the old computers. It can be problematic if you used proprietary software that doesn’t transition to newer computers.

Automated Migration

Many software products have sprung up that promise to make the process of upgrading your company to a newer operating system quicker and easier. This software often allows for an automatic migration process that can locate and inventory all computers on your network, then transition them to the new operating system remotely, either by installing an upgrade or flashing an image with the new operating system installed directly on to the hard drives.

Automated migrations have the advantage of being able to take a lot of the grunt work out of upgrading your company systems. If you have a large number of computers that need to be migrated, these systems can offer significant time and cost savings.

Disadvantages include more complexity in setting up and configuring the automation software, as well as the costs involved in purchasing the software itself. If your office doesn’t have a large number of machines that need updating, automation might not be for you. It also runs a risk of failing in the migration due to improper configuration, or other small errors that can be difficult to detect.

Manual Migration

The simplest way to upgrade your office PCs, the manual migration involves nothing more high tech than your IT manager or outsourced IT staff going from one machine to the next and manually moving them over to the new operating system.

This method is by far the most cost-effective if you only have a few machines that need to be migrated. However, if you have more than a handful of PCs to migrate, a manual migration can quickly grow very costly and unwieldy.