Updating that old operating system doesn’t just add new features and capabilities

In the OEM world where companies are building solutions from PC based platforms there is a reluctance to change the operating system (OS) they have spent significant resources developing their solution upon. I can understand why they may not want to assign their limited development resources on converting their applications to a new OS simply because some new OS happens to have been released. Once all of the testing, qualifying, and field experience has been completed, repeating that work again for a new OS could easily appear pointless and a waste of resources.

That said there are other reasons to move to a new operating system. We deal with change all the time in Dell OEM Solutions since technology is constantly improving with introductions of faster, more efficient, more capable and more reliable hardware. Often new hardware requires new drivers, patching the OS, and requalification by our OEM customers. We cannot stop the advancement of technology as Moore’s Law has proven to be a reality all of us in the technology world can benefit from while simultaneously dealing with the pain of changing solutions.

Furthermore, it is impossible to maintain support for a relatively ancient (in tech history) operating system. Consider Microsoft’s very successful Windows OS. In OEM Solutions we have many OEM customers still happily running Windows XP on their PC-based OEM solutions. They are using the MS downgrade rights license to legally install the old OS. Consider what they are doing.

They are relying on an OS which was originally released 11 years ago, and even if they are using SP3 and all the updates, their OS is over 3 years old. 3 years may not seem that old, but in reality that is pretty darn old in technological terms. Microsoft has stopped supporting Windows XP, so new hardware does not get new drivers. On top of the compatibility concerns we now know XP is significantly less secure than Vista and Windows 7. Check out this new study for the level of security provided by various versions of Windows. Clearly moving to a new OS makes life easier for everyone other than the core development and Q/A teams. The benefits to our OEM customers of moving to a new operating system include:

  • Improved hardware compatibility
  • Greater security of installed solution
  • Assured support from software and hardware suppliers
  • Simpler licensing
  • More features and capabilities (potentially improve solution in market)

I realize it isn’t always as simple as just announcing a move. There are many caveats and issues which must be overcome with any major application upgrade.

What is your OS upgrade strategy? I would love to understand what drives the decision to stay on the current OS or move to a new OS. Reply in the comments or contact us direct.

About the Author: Franklin Flint