As I write this, it is the day that Microsoft has declared that Windows XP is dead. Even the popular local radio news is covering this story identifying that as much as a third of the world's computers may still be running this operating system. One story I heard today said that as many as 400,000+ ATMs in the US are using XP as their operating system.
Just think what not having security patches, bug fixes and other updates could mean for all of these Windows XP based machines. If up to now people have been able to ignore all of the IT media coverage and the many blogs, IT news articles and other outreaches the industry has presented to try to get to those who have been reluctant to upgrade, with the popular media coverage most everyone will have heard the news.
It's time to act.
What does it mean to upgrade your Windows XP.
First step is to look at what your XP devices are doing for you.
If they are general office workstations then you can easily look at doing a hardware refresh and bundle into the new acquisition a new operating system and a new version of Office (Office 2003 is also being phased out for support). Doing this along with a hardware purchase is the easiest and least costly means to do an overall upgrade.
If the devices are running legacy business applications then you have to find out if the version of the application(s) you use is compatible with an upgraded OS. If not then you need to determine whether an upgrade for your application(s) is available that is supported with newer OSs, either Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
Once the applications are sorted out then you have to determine whether the hardware you are running will operate with the newer OS successfully. The actual minimum specs for running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 are not too daunting. The issue is that at the minimum the performance from either of these systems is going to be so poor that you will not be happy with your PC. If an upgrade is needed then seriously consider buying new hardware and do the upgrade that way. Here's a brief guide to some options to consider.
The next step after you have decided that an upgrade is the way you will go is to look at the peripherals like printers, scanners, bar code readers, etc. that you are hanging off of your PCs. You will need drivers for each of these for the new OS and it is best to review their availability before you move ahead. Most manufacturers of peripherals will have drivers available for Windows 7 but you may find that for older products you have problems finding them for Windows 8. This adds another dimension to your budget, do you need to invest in new hardware for these functions or are there recommended work arounds to help?
Moving to a new OS is not just about moving the OS. You need to be able to load compatible versions of all of the applications that you use in your business. This can be a substantial list when you look at the many different tools used by various departments. You have to consider the whole list and doing the inventory is an important preparatory part of your upgrade plan.
You also need to look at file transfer for key information which needs to be available in the new systems. This can be a great time to get employees to do a data cleanup removing old obsolete files which often accumulate in computers. Of course your data retention rules must be followed to ensure that only unneeded data is removed.
ITCanada has offered a series of resources which can help you make the transition to new OS solutions. Access it here.
Do you have to act immediately?
This is a question which only each individual organization can answer. If security of data and bug corrections are a concern for your systems then you need to move ahead as quickly as you possibly can. Now that the word is out popularly the pressure to obtain resources to help do a migration is going to increase. While IT consultants have been busy working on these changes for many clients they know that others are going to finally want it done NOW. Of course the limitations of manpower, budgets and available hardware will affect how quick NOW might be in each case.
There are many scary ideas about what the end of XP support will entail. Will the nefarious players be ready to pounce on those who no longer can get upgrades? Only the next few weeks will tell us what will happen. In the end you will not want to be one of the ones who finds out how bad it is.
If you are running XP then you should consider a plan to upgrade your systems post haste.
"The world did not treat this like a Y2K “head for the hills” event, but essentially ignored that April 8th deadline. Coming to an XP end point near you soon will be a hacker seeking to harass you, and at that time, we’ll have a better understanding of where it all ended up." Harry Brelsford, SMB Nation
This is Harry's conclusion at the end of a nine country world wide training series where he met with SMB consultants as part of their efforts to support their clients with XP and Office 2003 changes.
What are your plans for XP? Is it a moot case as you have already moved on?
Share your experience below.
Photo Credit: By George Grinsted from London, UK (robot atm) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons