Windows XP was released in 2001 — yes, 13 years ago — and Microsoft is officially putting the operating system out to pasture, ending support for it on April 8th, 2014. On that day, Microsoft will stop issuing security fixes for Windows XP, moving the operating system to End of Life status. They will also no longer distribute Microsoft Security Essentials (their anti-virus software) for XP.
Read on for our recommendations and what all this means for your business.
What does end of life mean? End of Life means that Microsoft will no longer release any security updates or patches, and security flaws that hackers find will not be fixed. Even with security software installed, your computer will be vulnerable to system-level attacks that could compromise your private data and the rest of your network.
What does this all mean to my business? If you still have Windows XP-powered computers at your office, you need to start making plans to replace them sooner rather than later. While those systems will continue to work after April 8, you’re putting you and your business data at risk if you continue to use them. There is also a fairly good chance that new hardware or software you may purchase (anything from accounting software to a new printer) likely won’t work with an XP machine, so it’s even more important to replace now to avoid trouble later.
What about my business software? We have also heard from multiple software vendors across all lines of business that they are no longer going to be supporting their products if they’re running on Windows XP machines. The software may continue to work, but if there are any problems the vendor will not be able to help you, instead telling you to upgrade. Office 2013, for example, won’t work on XP. Quickbooks will work, but won’t be supported after April 8th. Many speciality apps specific to certain industries will have similar restrictions, so you’ll want to confirm with your software vendors to see what they have to say about XP support. They will likely have a Windows 7-compatible version available.
What if I fall under a regulated industry (HIPAA, PCI, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc.)? We’ll be touching on this in our upcoming seminar. If you fall under any of these regulations, you need to replace these systems. Up-to-date patching is generally a requirement for these regulations and XP will no longer be receiving security updates, potentially putting you out of compliance. This article touches on some of the HIPAA impacts and how it relates to XP.
What does Weston recommend? We’re still hesitant to recommend Windows 8 for many applications. While the OS is solid, it’s generally not compatible with a some of the speciality business applications out there. The Metro interface is also generally harder for folks to use who have been using the familiar start-menu interface that has been part of Windows since Windows 95.
We also don’t normally recommend upgrading current hardware to a new OS. Instead, we recommend replacing the hardware entirely. Typically, hardware that is running XP is not going to run Windows 7 well, could have compatibility issues when trying to upgrade, and the hardware generally still not under warranty. While the cost of the upgrade software (if you can find it) appears to be cheaper than replacing the hardware, you’ll end up spending a great deal more time getting the upgrade to work properly versus getting a new system that is built to run a new operating system. Starting from scratch and just moving the data you need is going to be a more pleasant experience in the long run.
So what do you recommend? We recommend replacing them with Windows 7 Professional-powered machines (which has support until January of 2020). Windows 7 machines, however, aren’t something you can just go down to your local department store and purchase, you’ll typically have to custom order them through a vendor (Dell, HP, etc…) and make sure to select Windows 7 as an option. We can order workstations for you, just give us a call or email our sales team and we can quote a custom build or we have some ready-to-ship configurations (pricing changes all the time, so call us for the most current rates).
Why should you buy the new system from Weston?
- We’ll track the warranty information for you and help with warranty repairs, should the need arise (we won’t sell systems with anything less than a 3 year warranties plus options for accidental damage protection).
- We’ll work with you to determine what you need versus what they’re trying to sell you.
- We can work with you to verify that the system and/or software you purchase will be compatible with your current environment.
- We have access to purchase custom Windows 7 systems, which are difficult to find at retail (end of life support for Windows 7 will be available until 2020).
We know this can all seem a bit overwhelming, so don’t hesitate to contact us todayand we can work with you to come up with a plan to migrate your machines.