If you run a business, you most likely rely on your computer to get things done. There’s also a good chance that one or more of your desktop or laptop computers is running Windows XP.
In this post, we’ll talk about what this means for your business and some potential solutions. As the time draws nearer, I’ll go into more detail about what and how to do it.
Windows XP Support End Date
In case you still don’t know, Microsoft will cease to support Windows XP on April 8th, 2014. Not only will support for XP end, but also for Office 2003.
The operating system has been around since late 2001, so perhaps its about time.
Generally, operating systems are not meant to have a life-cycle so long, but the poor reception of Gates & Co’s unpopular follow up, Windows Vista, probably had a lot to do with XP’s longevity.
It might not be necessary to run out and grab the latest version of Windows or plop down your hard earned cash for a new computer just yet, but you’re not going to want to waste too much time after April 8th.
What Windows XP End of Support Means to Small Businesses
There are some people who believe that Windows XP will simply stop working once support ends. This is not true, Windows XP (and your computer) will continue to function normally.
Well, at least for a while…
When Microsoft kills XP on April 8th of this year, updates and patches will no longer be released. What this means is that eventually your PC will most likely become infected with viruses and malware, and may be vulnerable to hackers “breaking in” to your computer.
Why is this?
This is because Microsoft often releases updates and patches that fix security holes and vulnerabilities (bugs) that hackers and viruses exploit.
Additional vulnerabilities will eventually be found and new viruses for the OS (operating system) will eventually rear their ugly heads as hackers work their ways.
Without updates from Microsoft to fix these holes, your PC will be vulnerable. Hackers know that some people who either don’t know any better or don’t care will continue to use Windows XP long after its end of life.
That doesn’t mean you have to act on or before April 8th if you’re still running the antiquated OS, but don’t wait too long either.
Another issue that will eventually surface is application (or program) compatibility. There are other important applications such as Java and Adobe Flash that your computer uses to enhance functionality and provide a richer, more seamless experience on and off-line.
Once support for Windows XP ends, the vendors that make this software will stop producing updates for XP, which will introduce more vulnerabilities and security holes.
Undoubtedly, vendors that make software that runs on XP will stop producing compatible software and stop releasing updates for that software shortly after.
There’s a good chance that software you’re currently using for productivity or software specific to your industry will stop supporting versions that run on Windows XP after end of life.
For example, if you run a CAD program on your XP machine you may no longer be able to receive updates for it after XP is put to rest.
What to Do About It
First, don’t panic. You still have time if you haven’t upgraded already. Below is a list of things you can do. The right choice depends on your situation, budget, technical expertise, current computer specs, and more.
1) Do nothing
Obviously a bad choice.
2) Buy a new PC
The price of desktop PCs has dropped like a rock in the past few years thanks to explosive increase in the popularity of mobile devices.
Still, desktop computers have the most power for the price, and are the most upgradeable and expandable computers available (try upgrading the RAM in your tablet!).
Laptops, though not quite as upgradeable/expandable, can usually be upgraded also and tend to be somewhat powerful AND portable.
Some big manufacturers are still making PCs with Windows 7 installed if you’re not a Windows 8 fan. These should be available until later this year, well after April 8th.
3) Keep Your current PC and upgrade from XP to Windows 7 or 8
A Windows 7 or 8 upgrade from XP may or may not be an option depending on your computer hardware.
Search for Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor or Windows 8 Upgrade Advisor from Microsoft to see if your PC has the right specs to run these newer flavors of Windows.
Windows 7 can still be found on-line and some REAL computer stores, such as Micro Center.
As D-day approaches, I’ll try to write a few posts that go into more detail on these points so you not only know WHAT to do, you also know HOW to do it.
You may be wondering what to do with your old PC if you do buy a new one. I’ll talk about that too.