The End of Windows XP

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This isn’t the first time we’ve posted about Windows XP’s impending doom, but if you missed the news, this operating system has been scheduled for retirement in early April next year.  For end users, this means that there will no longer be any support available for this operating system and no more updates or security patches from Microsoft.

For the average home user, waiting until 2014 to start thinking about moving over to a new OS isn’t really a big deal.  Businesses, on the other hand, should start preparing to make this transition well before the year is out.  If you haven’t planned out your OS migration yet, then here are a few good reasons to start sooner rather than later.

#1: Planning now will help you achieve future success

Migrating over to a new operating system shouldn’t be an isolated project.  It’s important to consider your long term business goals and the kinds of technology requirements that you will have in the future.  Are your workers going mobile?  Are you planning to introduce any new devices into your IT environment?  These are just some of the concerns that you should take into account now, before you start making any changes to your system.

#2: You’ll need to prepare your infrastructure

Before selecting your new operating system, you’ll need to ensure that you have the right infrastructure in place to support it.  If you’ve been using the same old equipment for a long time, you may need to do a hardware refresh, either by upgrading or replacing your existing hardware.  You may also want to consider virtualizing your IT environment to set up and manage your employee’s desktops more effectively.

#3: You may run into compatibility issues

Many businesses use specialized applications which may not be compatible with certain operating systems.  Extensive testing will most likely be required to ensure that your choice is compatible with the tools that you need to get your work done.  In some cases, it may be necessary to adopt new applications and provide training for your users as well.

#4: You’re already running behind

Windows XP has been around for more than a decade, now, and it’s three generations behind the latest OS from Microsoft.  (In computer years, it might as well be centuries old.)  XP may have had a great run, but after all this time it really can’t keep up with the demands of the modern workplace.  Your users may be losing productivity compared to those on more modern systems, and they’re likely to be faced with an increasing number of compatibility issues as Windows 7 gradually takes the market share for desktop operating systems.

Though it may be tempting to stick with what you know, continuing to use Windows XP past its expiry date really isn’t worth the risk.  Without any updates or security patches, it will leave your system vulnerable to security threats.  In addition, its waning popularity means that third party IT professionals and vendors are unlikely to be able to provide the same levels of support that they did in the past.

There’s a lot to consider, but if you get started early and do lots of testing, you’ll probably be very happy with the result of your OS migration.  Upgrading has the potential to boost your employee’s productivity, open up new opportunities and ensure that your business is equipped to handle any challenge. XP’s retirement may feel like the end of an era, but it’s also the start of a bright new future — for many organizations, it might just be the push they needed to break out of old habits and start thinking about new technologies that can help them improve their business.