RIP Windows XP

 On October 25, 2001, Microsoft introduced an operating system that had small to large businesses alike exhaling a sigh of relief.  Windows XP, successor to Windows ME, has been a stable, reliable and very user-friendly operating system.  As of March 2013, 38.73% of PC’s connected to the Internet still run Windows XP (see graphic below).  As of April 8, 2014, Microsoft will be hanging a RIP sign over this mainstream operating system when they will no longer offer any support to existing users.

So what does this mean for you?   What if you don’t change?  What are your options?

The Grave Diggers a.k.a. – The Risks of Non-Migration

Security Patches – Die-hard XP fans, it is time to put down your weapons!  Do not fight the inevitable – think security!  Microsoft will no longer be writing any patches to fix security holes uncovered by hackers.  This means your entire network could be vulnerable to attacks.  You’ve worked so hard to safeguard your network – don’t risk exploitation!

Software Compatibility – Be aware that newer software packages of MS Office 2013, Quickbooks  and Adobe Acrobat will not run on Windows XP.  You can’t afford to put your business on a stand-still.

Drivers – A driver is software for a peripheral such as a printer, scanner, mouse or webcam that enables each of these devices to communicate with the computer operating system.  If you are looking to replace your printer or adding a new scanner to your hardware mix, they will not be written for XP.  You will be severely limiting your ability to grow by not upgrading your operating system.

The Truth about PC Hardware

You might be thinking, “No problem, I will just upgrade my operating system and keep my old computers.”  This is like applying a new paint job on an old car.  It might look new, BUT it is still an old car!  It will not improve the way it runs.  This analogy holds true for trying to upgrade old XP machines.

Two points to note:

1.  Cost – The lifecycle of a PC is 3 – 5 years.  In order to load a new operating system onto an older PC, Windows 7 for example, you first need to buy the individual license (price ranges around $200).  Unless you are tech savvy, you then need to bring your computer to an IT service provider to wipe the computer clean and then load the new operating system.  You are already looking at a combined cost of $300 – $400!  A new computer costs between $400 – $600.  New computers also come with a 2 – 3 year warranty.

2.  Mechanics – All computers have the following specs:

RAM – the working memory that allows you to open multiple programs at a time

Processor  – the engine of the computer that determines computing speed

Hard drive  – where all data and applications are stored

Video card – produces output to display on monitor

XP machines were not designed to keep up with the demands and features of current software and application releases.  Watching a current version of Microsoft Office load on an XP machine would be like watching a snail run a road race…painfully slow and it may never finish!  Not a productive use of time.

Moral of this story:  it is best to make the leap and embrace the total upgrade – computer and operating system.  You currently have 2 viable options.

  1.  Windows 7 – If you want to stay on the PC course, then your best investment will be upgrading to Windows 7.  Windows 7 machines are built to be compatible with many other peripherals such as printers and scanners.  They are also designed to run newer software applications such as current versions of Microsoft Office and Quickbooks faster.   According to the Microsoft website, support for this tried and true operating system is not slated to expire until January 14, 2020.  By the time this expires, it will be time to upgrade your computers once again.
  2. Windows 8 – Looking to jump onto the BYOD and tablet train?   Then this operating system is for you.  It is fast, fun and functional on a tablet, but on a PC, the existing version is not user-friendly.  Many consumers resist change, and the new touch screen “tile-world” (home screen) is an extreme one.  Microsoft has listened to the consumer’s complaints and plans a new release, Windows 8.1, this November.  The planned release will add back the beloved “start” button and allows users to boot directly to the desktop operating system.  Hallelujah!

One thing I do know:  you cannot wait until April 8th to make that decision – take a moment of silence now and then get ready to take action

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