MT EXPERT: Why friends don't let friends use Windows XP

Microsoft is about to mothball Windows XP. Don't let it kill your business, says Sean Robinson.

by Sean Robinson
Last Updated: 18 Mar 2014

After numerous extensions for customers outraged by the idea of its impending demise, Microsoft will finally end support for Windows XP in April next year. But why does this matter to business managers, and why is it an issue that needs to be addressed now?

The end of support for Windows XP means companies will be forced to upgrade to the latest version of Windows (Windows 8), whether they want to or not. At £100 per machine, this is a significant cost.

Despite being over a decade old, Windows XP remains the dominant operating system used today. In fact, three-quarters of our customers still use it.

Admittedly, your computer won’t stop dead in April - but it will become less reliable over time. The end of support is effectively the retirement of Windows XP in Microsoft’s eyes.

Future software is unlikely to run on it, and older software will eventually stop working too (if it hasn’t already). Most importantly, though, it means Microsoft will no longer fix any future security vulnerabilities that might be found by hackers, exposing your company to the risk of data loss or theft. Doing nothing is simply not an option.

There’s more: unfortunately, the cost of upgrading Windows alone is only the tip of the iceberg. The biggest cost comes next: chances are you’ll find that a lot of your old software doesn’t work with Windows 8. Upgrading it to work with Windows 8 will likely cost many times more than the money you’ve spent on the new operating system.

The key is to plan, budget and prepare. Firstly you need to understand the scale of the problem – find out exactly how many computers are currently running Windows XP and what software is on them (not just the name of the software, but the specific version number e.g. 5.3.1). This will let you know how many versions of Windows 8 you require, as well as which other software will need to be upgraded at the same time.

Now that you know how much software you need, you need to scour the market to find the most cost-effective software licences to meet your needs. Alas, this isn’t a simple process, because in contrast to consumer software that you simply buy off the shelf at PC World, business software licences are notoriously more complicated and come in all shapes and sizes. This is where your software reseller, with their detailed knowledge of your needs and the types of licences available, can help you to choose the right licence.

Nothing can be done to prevent the end of Windows XP, but right now you have time on your side. If you invest the time and money now, you can rest in April knowing Windows XP’s retirement won’t mean the untimely retirement of your own business.

- Sean Robinson is the managing director of License Dashboard

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