It’s no secret that Windows XP is rapidly approaching the end of its supported life. The drop-dead date is April 8, 2014. How many of your organization’s users are still relying on this short-lived operating system? According to web analytics firm Net Applications, approximately 29% of computer usage was still plugging along on Windows XP as of December 2013. Let’s take a quick look at the alternatives and how best to minimize your risk.
Not just Windows 8 anymore, as of mid-October 2013, Microsoft’s latest operating system is Windows 8.1. The greatest (and most user-friendly) distinction between these versions is the reintroduction of a Start menu. If you’re looking to future-proof your organization against the need to upgrade or have a high need for mobility and tablet computers, this is the operating system for you. Most applications are coming along in terms of compatibility, but you’ll still want to check the supported platforms listing for all mission-critical software. The learning curve that accompanies this new interface is not negligible, so don’t forget to take user training into account. Microsoft has a collection of brief educational videos available for free and specifically targeted at reacquainting users with the basics. If a screenshot is worth a thousand words, then a video tutorial is worth a million!
Currently, the most popular operating system by far, Windows 7 had 47.5% of the usage share last December. With four years passed since its release, this system is stable and well-supported. Migration to Windows 7 will be faster overall and generally less risky than moving to Windows 8 or 8.1. The interface is much closer to that which users have become accustomed over the past two decades of computing. With the current schedule for end of extended support set at January 14, 2020, upgrading to Windows 7 would buy another six years of operations before facing this same ordeal users and organizations are presently experiencing with Windows XP.
Remaining on Windows XP after the April cut-off will be computing at-your-own-risk. Drivers for new hardware will dry up, and software developers will cease testing applications against this dead platform. Above all, the biggest threat to XP machines once security updates are no longer forthcoming will be the Internet. If you know you’re not going to make the deadline, consider a couple of options for minimizing your exposure. Make sure users have another way to check email. Infected attachments, phishing schemes, spoofed links, and spam can be dangerous sources of worms, viruses and other malware that outdated systems have increasing difficulty in detecting and repairing. Similarly, make sure users have another way to surf the web. If there must be a web browser installed, at least make sure it’s a supported one.
Questions about Windows XP? Contact our Technology Advisors.
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