When Microsoft (MSFT) ends support for Windows XP in April 2014, millions of users and businesses could be left stranded with an operating system that lacks bug fixes, patches and proper security. So what's the solution?

Of course, many customers have solid plans in place to replace or refresh all of their Windows XP systems with Windows 7 or Windows 8 devices before April 2014. But a large number of businesses are likely behind on their migration planning. 

The result: A growing number of businesses and channel partners are taking a close look at desktop as a service (DaaS) or VDI (virtual desktop integration) solutions, The VAR Guy has heard from multiple sources. The concept: Let's assume you're a retailer with thousands of point-of-sale (PoS) PCs running Windows XP. Instead of completely refreshing all of that hardware, DaaS solutions can potentially protect existing PC investments while shifting the software workload to virtualized servers running Windows 7 or 8.

That's where offerings like VMware (VMW) Horizon potentially enter the picture. VMware pitches Horizon to channel partners as means for businesses to simplify desktop management, security and control. But the platform also gives end-users easy access to their applications from PCs, notebooks, tablets, smartphones and more. 

Dig a little deeper and channel partners may find ways to transform existing Windows XP systems into virtualized Windows 7 or Windows 8 systems -- where Windows 7/Windows 8 runs up on the server in a secure manner.

The VAR Guy must concede: He's just getting started on this story -- and is checking in with VMware now to learn more about how Horizon may help to eliminate or minimize Windows XP end of life support headaches.