Cluff said he has talked to other IT directors in the U.S., and many of them told him they have already started testing open-source solutions like the OpenOffice suite and Red Hat Linux.

An Aging OS

Although many users may be unhappy, John Biglin, CEO of the management and technology services consulting firm Interphase Systems, said he doesn't think Microsoft is in the wrong.

"Microsoft continues to invest in improving its operating systems, and XP, in a lot of ways, is an aging operating system. It was released back in the beginning of this decade," he said. "Migrating to a newly evolved desktop operating system is something that's inevitable." Biglin said at least 90 percent of Interphase's clients use XP.

Information Week reported April 3 that Microsoft has yet to announce a release date for the hotly anticipated Windows 7 operating system.

In the meantime, however, government jurisdictions might need to brace themselves.

"For a large enterprise or a large state and local government organization, the migration is not something to take lightly and not plan. It's much more than purchasing licenses and running an upgrade program on the computer," Biglin said. "The best way to work through this type of migration is really to spend time planning the migration process, testing the applications up front and ensuring that you have a logical framework on how you progress from XP to whatever your new operating system is."


Hilton Collins, Staff Writer Hilton Collins  | 

Hilton Collins is a former staff writer for Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines.