SideXSide: Windows XP or Windows 7?

When Microsoft launched Windows Vista a few years ago, the company said that the operating system would be the ideal replacement for Windows XP. It showered praise on the then-latest operating system, saying that it would be the next big thing in the software space.

That success never materialized. As consumers started using Windows Vista, they found all kinds of issues with the software. And it quickly became apparent that Vista wasn’t as robust or reliable as Windows XP. The OS suffered from gaping security holes, weird design quirks, and other issues that earned Microsoft a black eye.

Watching these issues unfold, many enterprises decided to steer clear of Windows Vista. Companies around the world reasoned that investing in the new operating system wasn’t worth it. The most prudent move at that juncture was to stick with XP and wait for the next best OS from Microsoft.

Luckily, that solution came along in 2009 in the form of Windows 7. Microsoft’s latest operating system is everything that Vista should have been. And it’s starting to attract companies.

Chances are, your organization is still heavily invested in Windows XP, and you’re undoubtedly wondering if it’s time to switch to Windows 7. After all, your employees’ computers are getting old. And they’re running an operating system that isn’t getting any younger. If you think time might have finally come to opt for Microsoft’s latest OS, our SideXSide comparison of Windows XP and Windows 7 is designed to help you make your decision.

SideXSide: Windows XP or Windows 7?


Windows XP

Windows 7

Migration costs

$0 — you already have it 

$1,205 – $2,069 per PC, according to Gartner.

Windows Phone 7 support



Prior OS integration


Yes, with the help of Windows XP mode in Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise Editions.

Integrated, secure VPN support

Yes, but limited through the New Connection Wizard

Yes, with new DirectAccess. The software creates IPSec tunnels to the
server. IT can control access to servers with the software. Available
in Ultimate and Enterprise editions of Windows 7.

BranchCache support


Yes. BranchCache is new with Windows 7, allowing for content on Web servers on a WAN to be cached on local computers.

External drive encryption

Available with third-party applications.

Yes. BitLocker to Go encrypts data on removable drives.

Software compatibility

Outstanding, thanks to longevity and enterprise use.

Outstanding, thanks to Windows XP mode integration, which runs a full version of Windows XP in a virtual environment in the OS.

Support end-date



Netbook support

Available in several netbook computers.

Available in several netbook computers.

User Account Control 


Yes. However, Windows 7’s integration of User Account Control isn’t as
invasive (and is potentially less fatiguing for employees) than the
integration in Windows XP.

Aero Interface 

No. Windows XP features the standard Windows interface employees are familiar with.

Windows 7 features the Aero interface. Although Microsoft says it will
improve productivity, CIOs should beware. It’s much different than
Windows XP’s software design and employees could get confused.
Short-term productivity losses are possible.

Source: CIO Insight, December 2010.

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