If you’re running Windows XP, it’s time to make a plan.

Windows XP was codenamed Whister during its development. Apt given that Windows XP was a monumental success for Microsoft having at one point, 74% of the world’s computers using it, with 400 million or more copies sold since its introduction in 2001. The name XP, is a derivative of eXPerience, and for Windows users it changed their computing experience forever with XP being the first Microsoft OS for consumers built on the Windows NT kernel, the serious, stable foundation of business computing. XP was more stable, efficient and had an enhanced user interface. Faster and prettier always work in consumer computing.

However, the XP story’s almost reached its end as on April 8th 2014 Microsoft will end support for Windows XP and Office 2003. It’s time to move on, but many of us haven’t yet; as of February this year 39% of desktops were still using XP. In a year’s time XP users will no longer receive security updates or be able to get technical support from Microsoft. And don’t rely on your usual PC reseller or your IT department, as they will have no access to support either.  If you’re a business that still has PCs running Windows XP and Office 2003 you need to start migrating now. If you don’t you can’t ensure security of your PCs, applications may not work, you will not be able to exploit the opportunities of mobility and your employees productivity will be seriously effected.

“Modern users demand technologies that fit their personal work style and allow them to stay productive anytime, anywhere, while businesses have an ever increasing need to protect data and ensure security, compliance and manageability. Windows 8 and Office 2013 are designed with these needs in mind; needs that an 11-year-old operating system can no longer address.”

— Patrick Ward, Business Manager, Client Microsoft Ireland

Last year, IDC said the longer you put off migrating to a new OS, the more expensive it is to support Windows XP.  IT labour costs go up 25 percent in the fourth year of continuing to run Windows XP past deadline and in the fifth year, IT labour increases by an additional 29 percent, and user productivity costs jump up a staggering 40 percent.

Migrating is not a fast process, but it needs to be done and  it really isn’t difficult, and it may be the ideal time to review your current IT set-up and get you into the land of supported software with all the associated benefits. To be assured of continued support and compatibility you need to get started now, and you essentially have have three options: a) Do nothing b) Purchase an expensive support contract c) Upgrade to modern, supported software . The obvious winner here is number 3. So what is modern, supported software? Well ideally WIndows 8, Microsoft’s most efficient and elegant operating system to date. You’ll find using it not only more efficient than older systems, but it is genuinely a joy to use with its new tile interface; we’ve grown accustomed to updates, statuses and a feeling that we’re in touch with our digital lives and data, work and home, and WIndows 8’s new interface keeps you in touch, unobtrusively but effectively.

I’ve seen an amount of discussion online regarding whether to go to WIndows 7 or WIndows 8; some larger businesses are opting for now, to move only to WIndows 7.Jack Scholfield discussed this in the Guardian in November, and makes a worthwhile point that the stepping down option, from WIndows 8 to 7, is only available if you buy WIndows 8 Pro – so if you’re a standard user and you opt for Windows 8, that’s where you stay. What’s wrong with that? Well nothing, but some tech commentators are pointing out that Windows 8 is built to with ‘touch first’ in mind. That’s not a bad thing in my book, and also, WIndows 8 is at the forefront of ridding the planet of what I call the ‘scourge of skeuomorphic ‘. It’s time we grew up, cutesy has had its day and it’s time we put some modernism back in our buildings and our software – I don’t need a Notepad app to have little spine holes or feint margin rules displayed, using up valuable screen space – yes, valuable as my primary work device is now smaller than a laptop; if Mark Twain were alive he’d be nodding.

There is nothing wrong with focusing on touch – and for touch, read mobility. We’ve discussed Tablets and Think Mobile on Newstalk’s Down To Business over the last couple of months – it’s where the needs of computer users is bringing us, so your XP migration, to WIndows 8 is the ideal time to get yourself there.

Starting the migration
Start by making a list of more than the obvious – you need to upgrade your WIndows XP Operating System and Office 2003, but you may have applications that you bought or last updated some time ago. List them, and check the vendor websites for updates that need to be installedafteryou’ve upgraded to WIndows 8.

As part of an upgrade for your business you may decide to update or buy new PCs and in turn may find that you don’t need all the old third-party software you once used to buy separately.  For example, Windows 8 Pro and the new Microsoft Office have enhanced security features like a built-in firewall, anti-virus, and malware protection, as well as BitLocker which provide data encryption to secure data on hard drives and USB keys. Or you may decide as part of your IT re-think, to go straight to the cloud with Office365; all your usual applications and more, with you everywhere. And if you’re doing that, you may want to look closely at mobility and if now’s the time to make your business more mobile with a WIndows 8 tablet?

Whichever route you decide, it really is time to make a plan – let’s not be having this conversation again in six months time.

External links & references

  1. Microsoft: www.Get2Modern.com
  2. Citrix for example have a useful XP Migration checklist
  3. Windows 8 Pro and retiring XP
  4. Office365 : Move your apps to the cloud
  5. Business Insider: It makes sense to upgrade from XP

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