The problem, however, is Microsoft has finally pulled the plug on support.
What you need to know if you still run XP
For larger enterprises, Microsoft’s past data shows the average enterprise deployment can take 18 to 32 months from business case to full deployment. That might seem unrealistic, but the key is to have some cushion for scheduling, planning, and of course, application testing.
And regardless of whether or not businesses meet their deployment dates, after early April, “there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates,” according to Microsoft’s online documentation.
Microsoft says running Windows XP with Service Pack 3 after support ends can lead to security risks as well as hardware and software compatibility issues. Most IT managers have already seen what Gartner mentioned.
For companies that tend to be a bit more maverick when it comes to leaning on Microsoft (or any vendor) for support, there’s more to it than just technical problem-solving. The business benefits that come with newer operating systems can be substantial, especially going from XP to something like Windows 8.
PC security and management have been improved, but perhaps just as important, Microsoft’s newer operating systems allow organizations to take advantage of more powerful virtualization and cloud-based capabilities.
XP Alternatives and Benefits
And speaking of the cloud, there’s open source operating systems that can also deliver the cloud as well as a stable computing environment. Linux, Chromium, and JoliOS are a few of the choices. Linux is the most mature and can be downloaded for free through popular distribution networks.
While both options can be downloaded at no charge, most enterprise distribution networks monetize their markets with commercial services and technical support. Companies with proprietary applications or older hardware should be prepared for compatibility and integration challenges.
Chromium, from Google, is gaining momentum as Chromebooks become viable for portable computing. JolioOS is another free option for XP replacement whose source code can be found on the geek portfolio GitHub.
The nice thing about open source, besides its extensibility, is the lack of viruses. While the browsers that users choose can introduce security risks, open source OSes have mostly been immune to malware that affects Windows machines.
Get Help Before Any Upgrade
A company’s computing infrastructure has never been more mission-critical. Even so, operating systems are often taken for granted until something doesn’t work. The best thing businesses can do to prepare for Windows XP’s end of support is to get help. Either a company that can augment what IT is doing or one that can take over the whole process. Sometimes it’s better to have a resource outside the firewall that can objectively crack the whip to keep things in order and moving. You can’t afford the down time. Start there with your ROI analysis.
(editor’s note – earlier this month, Microsoft announced that they would still support Windows XP’s anti-malware programs until July of 2015, in order to help organizations complete their migrations. Windows XP will still go out of support in April of this year. For more info, please visit the Microsoft blog post announcing the decision.)
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