“Will there be difficulty to support hardware with more modern Windows releases? I expect the answer is ‘yes,’ but configuring Linux is not a day at the beach either. I think there is an after-market for older PCs, and most will end up either running XP unsupported or be converted to run Linux.”
That’s a reasonable viewpoint of Al Hilwa, program director for applications development software at IDC. XP unsupported could work off-line and some folks might try “DeepFreeze” or some such technology to rewrite everything on every reboot. Applications, however, are the big problem. If your applications are unsupported, you cannot handle new file-formats or get any protection from an accumulating list of vulnerabilities. They are also the chief lock-in these days. If you have invited some cancerous app in to run your business, how can you change without harming the business?
The answer I suggest is to move all the stuck applications to web applications and just change to GNU/Linux ASAP. Many critical applications are not that complex but it may take some programming or using a combination of applications to replace them. You only have to do that once if you use FLOSS, however, because you can always access the code. The problem of lock-in is failure to adopt FLOSS last time there was a big change. Lock-in will only get worse if M$ and “partners” have anything to do about it. Munich showed how it is done. They were forced to migrate because NT was disappearing. They found all kinds of duplication around the organization and cut their lock-in a lot just by eliminating applications doing similar tasks. They ended up with only a few applications that needed to be kept and they only needed those on a few PCs. It takes an effort but in less than one refresh-cycle you break even because you can keep your existing PCs a bit longer and you avoid most licensing fees.