If Microsoft were a logging company, Windows XP would be the toughest tree in the forest. A recent report from NetMarketShare shows that Windows XP still garners around 38% of the desktop operating system installed base. That's not good, considering Microsoft and its partners are tasked with getting all of those Windows XP installations migrated to a newer Windows OS by April 2014 when Windows XP faces a loss of support.

Dig into the full stats at NetMarketShare:  http://netmarketshare.com/

And, Windows 8 is not helping matters. The initial release of Windows 8 confused and confounded many organizations, causing them to consider skipping the latest Microsoft OS release. According to the NetMarketShare results, Windows 8 has JUST NOW passed the horrid Windows Vista in desktop estate.  Now, after public outcry over the "things left out" of Windows 8 (Start button, boot to desktop) Microsoft has put organizations in a holding pattern while they wait to see if Windows 8.1 is a better fit. Enterprises still utilizing Windows XP and slow on their Windows 7 upgrades are holding off in case Windows 8.1 brings something extra special to help change their minds.

Most likely that won't happen and organizations will restart their Windows 7 deployment projects. However, due to waiting to see what Windows 8.1 produces, most companies are going to be severely under the gun to accomplish a full Windows XP extraction.

One of the big dogs in Microsoft's partner kennel, HP used WPC to announce a massive intent to help customers move from Windows XP to Windows "something". Many IT organizations have so much on their plate already so Microsoft partners will be the key to ensuring Windows XP is laid to rest by April 2014.

Larger organizations who utilize Microsoft System Center 2012 have an advantage since Configuration Manager 2012 provides OS deployment services, but smaller companies are going to be scrambling to find tools to help automate the migrations.

One glimmer of hope for large and small organizations alike, is the IT/Dev Connections conference running between September 30thand October 4th.  There's a huge session focus on operating system deployment, including outlining the tools to use and how to use them.

Registration is still open for the event, and you can check it out here:  http://www.devconnections.com/

A prime reason why the Windows XP migrations were going so slow prior to the release of Windows 8 was the application compatibility problem, and this problem will still exist once the OS deployment projects are reignited. Fortunately, Microsoft has developed tools to help with testing, but also to ensure that potentially incompatible applications can run on Windows 7. The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) provides all the tools needed to simplify application deployment and improve application compatibility.  IT/Dev Connections will also have several sessions on MDOP, led by the product manager.

Read more about MDOP here: Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP)

So, what are you doing to prepare for the April 2014 deadline?