By Scott M. Lewis
The end of life for one of the most popular operating systems ever is coming on April 8, 2014. Yes, the Microsoft Windows XP desktop operating system is still one of the most used operating systems, but it is going to fade into history. Windows XP is still estimated to account for more than 50% of the overall desktop operating systems used in businesses and homes. This is primarily because of the fact that it has become a very usable and stable working environment. And let’s face it: The options that Microsoft has given us have left us without that excitement and warm and fuzzy feeling that we want to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8.
So what does “end of life” really mean to the average user or business? After April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer issue security updates, nonsecurity hot fixes, and free or paid support options, and online support will no longer be updated. What that means is that your computing environment will become more susceptible to security risks, which could be a compliancy issue if you work with or in the public sector or with organizations that require technology compliance. Another big exposure is that independent hardware and software manufacturers will not support newer versions of their software on noncompliant or outdated systems.
With the end of Microsoft XP and Office 2003, what options do we have to migrate to the newer versions? Microsoft is actually providing several evaluation tools and migration strategies to help small, medium and large organizations migrate to the new versions. Large-enterprise upgrades can be much more difficult to design and manage.
However, Microsoft does have a plan to help you – with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit. The Deployment Toolkit can help you determine how to upgrade each system along with whether your hardware resources meet the minimum specifications to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8. Small and medium businesses can take advantage of several special offers from Microsoft for new or replacement computer systems to at least take the edge off the pain of upgrading.
One option that many companies overlook is evaluation of different Microsoft licensing programs such as open licensing. Smaller companies often go through OEM (original equipment manufacturer) licensing when they purchase new equipment; there are several licensing programs through Microsoft, which could save you money. Make sure you engage a Microsoft reseller partner to see what licensing options your organization can take advantage of.
With the end of XP, what are some of the reasons you should be excited to upgrade to Windows 8? Outside of the most common, such as improved security and almost a decade of development improvements from a user functionality perspective, here are some of the exciting features:
Faster start-up speed. We have all endured the Microsoft start-up process, which could leave you with that “what were they thinking?” feeling. Windows 8 now rivals Apple in its start-up speed. This was a focus of Microsoft during the development stage of Windows 8. It knew start-up speed was hurting it, and it made great strides in this area.
The new frontier of apps. Windows 8 has opened up a new frontier for PC users with full-screen apps, touch-screen apps and web-connected apps. Microsoft not only has opened up the world of apps but also makes it very easy to install. You can install Windows 8 apps on other Windows 8 devices without paying again.
Improved security and less intrusive updates. Microsoft has gone to great pains to greatly improve the overall security in Windows 8. It has put in checks and balances so that the operating system won’t load applications that have not been verified with the manufacturer and has built in processes that stop malware and spyware without third-party anti-virus software. I would not recommend this though.
Touch screen, keyboard or mouse. Microsoft did a great job with the design and implementation of the touch-screen technologies. However, if you still like the keyboard and mouse, they work great as well.
Windows 8 is a big step forward. It has not gone without some glitches, and it is different. Change in the computing world is not always taken with the greatest of enthusiasm. However, Microsoft has given us a solid move-forward platform. That, coupled with new hardware platforms such as convertible computers (half PC and half tablet), Microsoft phones and improved tablet technologies for mobility, makes this a good time to explore those strategies and how your business could benefit.
Scott Lewis is the president and CEO of Winning Technologies Group of Companies, an international technology management company. He has more than 30 years of experience in the technology industry and is a nationally recognized speaker on technology subjects such as collocation, security, CIO-level management, data and voice communications, and best practices related to the management of technology resources. Learn more about Winning Technologies at www.winningtech.com or call 877-379-8279.
Submitted 9 years 177 days ago