[Last updated: 2013/03/31]
Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP in April 2014. But what does this mean and what impact will it have on your business? How should you go about migrating your XP machines to Windows 7 or 8.1, why should you be doing this, and what are the risks if you don’t?
No more updates from April 8
Did you know that Microsoft will end official support for Windows XP on April 8 2014? In a nutshell this means no more updates like security patches and bug fixes for the OS beyond that date.
Windows XP was the stalwart of office PCs and has had an amazingly long-run compared to other versions of Windows. However, it is getting long in the tooth and chances are the hardware it’s installed on is too.
Many businesses are likely to continue using XP anyway, thinking ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, but imagine the scenario when malware authors go looking for security holes in an unsupported yet widely-used OS and their code happens to find its way on to your office network. Anti-virus software will not have you 100% covered.
Reports suggest that hackers are sitting on any new Windows XP exploits they find until after end-of-support. XP security hacks could then go for double their current black market price and remain active for months or even years with no more Microsoft patches being released.
Knocking on Microsoft’s door for Windows XP support past the cut-off date will apparently cost a staggering US$200,000 if you have a Software Assurance contract and US$500,000 without said agreement.
In addition, you will no longer be able to run the latest version of Microsoft Office and third-party software vendors will drop support for Windows XP.
By not migrating to a newer version of Windows you increase the risk of system failure and business disruption because of the end of support, lack of supported software, and the increasing age of your hardware left running Windows XP.
According to reports around 40% of enterprise workers around the globe are still using the 12 year old Windows XP (and many of them still browse the web with the outdated and insecure Internet Explorer 6 and 7, but that’s another story).
Microsoft estimates that there are 160 million computers in the world still running Windows XP and has begun a campaign to help people understand why upgrading their version of Windows is so important.
The official end of support site for Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 provides lots of resources and compelling arguments for migration.
Why choose Windows 8.1?
Naturally, Microsoft is pushing for you to migrate from XP to the latest Windows 8.1. And we understand you may be reticent. Many concerns have been raised over Windows 8, mostly knee-jerk reactions to the new Modern (formerly ‘Metro’) user-interface with its brightly colored tiles, but behind this, once you get into the familiar desktop environment it is still Windows.
If you are about to invest in new PCs, especially laptops or laptop/tablet hybrids with touchscreens, then Windows 8.1 is the one OS that will take full advantage of all the latest hardware features with a touch-friendly interface.
Also bear in mind that Windows 8.1, released October 2013 and a free upgrade for Window 8 users, contains fixes for many complaints levelled at the new OS immediately after its release, including the return of a ‘Start’ button of sorts, and some exciting new features for enterprise IT deployment. As of Windows 8.1 it is possible to bypass the tiles and boot straight to the desktop should you wish to.
If Windows 8.1 looks to be too drastic a leap for your organization and/or you are not in a position to purchase new hardware, we suggest upgrading your aging and potentially vulnerable XP machines to Windows 7 instead, which Microsoft has pledged to support until January 2020.
Where to begin?
Becoming completely, or even mostly, free of XP in the workplace is a potentially time consuming process with ‘gotchas’ lurking around every corner, which is why you should be evaluating strategies and choosing a course of action sooner rather than later. Microsoft’s estimate for a complete, successful enterprise migration away from Windows XP is 18 months or more, but obviously this will vary depending on the size of your organization.
A recommended strategy would begin with a thorough IT assessment, identifying old hardware that needs replacing and hardware that is capable of running a newer version of Windows. Also all applications in use should be analyzed and software upgrade paths determined. In cases where it is imperative that some machines continue to run Windows XP they should be kept off the Internet and behind the corporate firewall.
If your Tokyo or Hong Kong office is considering making the move to Windows 7 or 8.1 and needs bilingual assistance, let us begin by performing a full IT assessment and recommending the best course of action. We will then help you every step of the way during the migration process. Once you are up and running we also provide Service Level Agreement (SLA) Help Desk Support for all hardware and software.
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Make an informed decision on your Windows XP migration strategy with the help of these reports:
Windows XP End-of-Life: Tips and Facts
- Windows XP Migration Window Is Closing Fast (CIO)
Is your migration under way? Here are some steps to take to start the process.
- Windows XP Security Issues: Fact Vs. Fiction (InformationWeek)
- Microsoft Offering Data Transfer Tool for Windows XP Holdouts (PC Mag)
- Windows XP Shutdown: 10 Facts To Know (InformationWeek)
- Windows XP Last-Minute Upgrades: 3 Tips (InformationWeek)
Sticking with it
- 9 must-do’s if you must stick with Windows XP (Network World)
- Five Steps to Mitigate Risks After Windows XP Security Updates End (ITBusinessEdge)
- Microsoft: Unplugging Windows XP PCs From Internet Won’t Keep Them Safe (CRN)
- Microsoft bets on Windows XP disaster (Computerworld)
Ending support for XP will mean ‘more systems will get compromised’
- Windows XP: upgrading 30,000 PCs in 30 days (PC Pro)
- CIO’s cycling buddies steer ferries to Windows 8.1 (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Financial Firms Looking To Linux, Windows 7 As XP Support Dries Up (TechCrunch)
- Windows XP isn’t the only software getting the knife (Computerworld)
Microsoft will also end support for Office 2003 and Exchange 2003 on April 8
- No special treatment for China on XP (Computerworld)
Support ends April 8 in the PRC, too
Looking into Windows 8.1
- Windows 8.1: What enterprise users need to know (ZDNet)
- Windows 8.1: Everything You Need to Know (Mashable)
- Microsoft Windows 8.1: Video Review (CNET)
- Microsoft Windows 8.1 Review (PC Mag)
- The new version of Windows 8 is what you’re expecting and probably what you want (TechRadar)
- Review: Windows 8.1 Update offers an olive branch for mouse users (InfoWorld)