Windows XP does sometimes seem as old as the universe. Microsoft released the venerable operating system way back on October 25, 2001. The last XP service pack came out over four years ago, and mainstream support ended in 2009. But the end of life for XP is approaching quickly. Are you prepared?
Although mainstream support for XP ended years ago, Microsoft has continued to provide extended support for XP. That means they provide security fixes only. But this extended support is ending in one year. Microsoft’s confirmed end-of-life for XP is April 8th, 2014. (The same is true for Office 2003.) If any security exploits are discovered in the operating system after that date, they will not be fixed. Ever.
Here’s the rub: XP is still running on almost 40% of all desktop computers. It is Microsoft’s most popular operating system ever, and it only just recently fell behind Windows 7 in total market share.
(Graph courtesy of http://marketshare.hitslink.com.)
As such an attractive target for hackers, it’s almost a guarantee that somebody will devise a new security exploit. So anybody continuing to run XP after next April will be at greatly increased business risk.
If you are still running XP in your organization, please start making plans now to phase it out by next April.
But what should you move to? Vista was a dead-end, so please don’t go there. Windows 7 is very popular, still available for sale, and will be supported for several years, at least for security fixes. Windows 8 has just been released, and most new systems now come pre-installed with it. But it is still quite new, so it may not be supported by all of your business applications yet, and we generally don’t advocate upgrading to a new operating system until its had a while to “bake”.
Our recommendation would be to purchase systems with Windows 8 pre-installed, but with an accompanying Windows 7 downgrade license. This lets you run Windows 7 now, if necessary, and upgrade to Windows 8 later for no additional licensing fee.
Also, when you upgrade, please don’t try to cut corners by upgrading “in place” on the same old hardware. For one thing, there is no direct upgrade path from XP to either Windows 7 or Windows 8, so it will take more work to upgrade in place than to migrate to new hardware. Also, your old hardware probably doesn’t have enough horsepower to run Windows 7 or 8 very well at all, so by the time you’ve upgraded hard drives, memory, etc., you could have purchased a new computer with a warranty.
Good luck! If you have any questions about any of this, please leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.