The sign of a great product is when customers and clients refuse to upgrade to the newer version because the “old” version works so well. In technology, nowhere is this more evident than the number of Windows XP licenses still in use today. Despite the release of Windows Vista, Windows 7, and now Windows 8 (and 8.1), an untold number of businesses continue to utilize a legacy operating system that was released by Microsoft almost 13 years ago.
Think about all of the amazing technical developments and breakthroughs that happened after the release of Windows XP in October of 2001. Concepts like “cloud computing” were just coming into widespread use. The iPhone wouldn’t be released for six years. Dual Core processors hadn’t reached mass adoption. VOIP service was still notoriously unreliable and expensive in most instances. Yet the operating system Microsoft released before each of those technologies matured continues to have not just a presence, but a significant share of the operating system install base in many enterprise environments.
Some estimates place the number of XP installs at around 500 million units, representing around 1/4 of all PCs and nearly 95% of all ATM machines around the world. Consider that: software that is more than a decade old continues to be relied on not only by millions of individuals, but also by key automation and control process technology despite its age. The platform’s stability and intuitiveness are a crowing achievement in the last twenty years for Microsoft and legions of users would be glad to continue using XP well into the future.
As a result, it is no surprise that many users of XP are reluctant to move forward and on to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. There is a comfort level not just with the form and functions of XP, but also with the security and structure that it provides for the organization. Unfortunately for these users, support for Windows XP will cease to exist in less than two months. Current XP installs will continue to operate, but Microsoft will no longer issue patches and updates to the operating system, meaning that exposure to viruses and vulnerabilities will increase. In a business setting, running XP will be essentially unjustifiable and leave your organization open to business interruption…or worse.
Here are a few tips to consider as you make a transition from XP to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
- How is your hardware? Machines running XP are likely due (or overdue) to be refreshed. If you haven’t been in the market for new desktops or laptops since purchasing XP machines, then you will be pleasantly surprised at the cost of upgrading your hardware. Purchasing new machines, going to a thin-client installation, or leasing hardware from an IT services provider will bring an update of your operating system to a support platform. Engaging with an IT provider often includes migrating your data and applications as well. Upgrading your hardware is a cost-effective way to transition your entire IT workstation backbone with minimal hassle.
- Call on partners, vendors, and Microsoft itself. Even if you don’t refresh your hardware entirely, there are incentives and deals available to help you move to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Many IT service providers will foot the bill to standardize your software platform if you commit to a contract for their services. Microsoft itself has a program wherein the company will buy old hardware as a way to steer companies to upgrade their licenses and machines. With a little research you should be able to find programs that greatly reduce the upfront cost of upgrading from Windows XP.
- Go with what you know. Windows XP is favored by many users because of its familiarity and ease of use. Windows 8.1 will seem like a major departure for XP users. But in many ways, Windows 7 (which is still available and supported) will seem like Windows XP with a fresh coat of paint. There are certainly more robust features and functions in Windows 7 as compared to Windows XP. However, the vast majority of user-preferred functionality in XP is preserved. With a very slight learning curve, those that favor Windows XP should have a relatively easy time converting their habits and usage preferences to Windows 7.
- Slow down. Windows XP won’t be supported after April 8th and while it’s not a good idea to continue using XP indefinitely, there is no reason to believe that you are headed for catastrophe on April 9th. Your computers will still boot up and your applications should still work. Having the right plan in place for transitioning from Windows XP is much more important than racing to meet the deadline.
If your organization is still using XP or working with a company still using XP, then you still have time to plan an orderly transition. That said, you should move quickly to avoid any hiccups or interruptions this Spring when Windows XP is finally sent to pasture after more than a decade of service. Rushing into a decision is not necessary, but putting off a transition indefinitely is a bad idea. The resources and tools available to help you get from Windows XP to Windows 7 or 8.1 are ample and the incentives are great.
Click here to learn more about hardware refresh planning and how to get the most out of your hardware and software assets. If you still aren’t sure of the best strategy for your company to transition from XP to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, click here to learn how Mosaic NetworX can help!