Is It Finally Here?
Are you still using Windows XP on your computer? Microsoft has been threatening to discontinue Security updates for Windows XP for some time now. They are proposing that the day is finally set and is fast approaching. This may just cause utter chaos for those of us who love XP. According to NetMarketshare, 31.42% of PC's and Mac's worldwide are still using this Operating System. Unfortunately for 'us' Microsoft will release its very last security updates for Windows XP and the oh-so-efficient extended support period will also come to an end. The date is April 8, 2014 and this just may be a hacker's dream come true.
Hackers have been able to easily exploit flaws in Windows XP. Microsoft reported in 2012, that XP's infection rate was approximately 10% of every 1,000 scanned by the company's security software. That is more than double the number for Windows 7 (which lifecycle ends January 14, 2020) and Windows 8 (which lifecycle ends January 10, 2023). The two later have additional and more advanced security measures.
What This Means For Small Businesses?
Yes, it does seem like the giants are against us. We are being forced to move from our happy comfort zones to purchase and learn a completely different operating system. Unfortunately, this is true. We will eventually have to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8. This doomsday has been looming for a little over a year now. Some companies chose to switch the operating systems to Windows Vista, which is not one of my favorites. Your company just may have several licenses and an upgrade would cost thousands. Most of your peripherals may not work with Windows 7 or 8. You may have software that only function on Windows XP. You may even have a complex XP network.
What Are We Supposed To Do?
The best option, in my opinion, is to upgrade to 7 or 8. There are discounts everywhere for this product. Prices range from $99 to $189 depending on which suite you buy. The prices vary on a weekly basis, so you may get a good deal now as opposed to waiting until April. Sure you may have to spend time learning the system, hire someone to train your staff, or upgrade all of your application, but it may be well worth the process and money in the long run. I choose to start saving now.
Microsoft's website has a complete breakdown and explanations of the're remaining supported Windows operating systems, The Windows LifeCycle Fact Sheet. According to Graham J. of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, "Unfortunately it will be expensive, no matter what you decide. I'm already getting calls from people who upgraded and their old software doesn't work. I also get calls for software and app installations. It's a little sad for the companies because some of them are trying to save money but it's costing them more than it would have if they had upgraded."
For those of us who choose not to save up or shell out money because we're just not giving up on our XP, we have to consider other options. One suggestion would be to isolate the computers that are absolutely necessary. These are the systems where XP must remain functional. Set these systems aside or designate them for specific use. Install the software and applications that only work on XP. Disable your network to try and avert hackers. Most importantly, keep track of your computer technician's phone number. You will probably need it.