Out With the Old, In With the New: Windows XP Loses Support

On April 8, 2014, technical support and security updates for the legacy Windows XP operating system ended. An estimated 30 percent of businesses and consumers around the world still use this 12-year-old system and continuing its use is a gamble. PCs running Windows XP will no longer be protected from malicious attacks and eventually won’t be able to support the requirements of some applications. 

What can organizations do to meet this challenge? What are the options?

First, organizations can upgrade their existing operating systems or replace aging PCs. Upgrading an operating system, although a relatively inexpensive option (a retail version of Microsoft 8.1 is available for $120), may not be a workable option, as an older PC may not have the system requirements to run a newer system. Refreshing an entire computer fleet could be effective, but with costs of $500 to $1000 to replace each PC, along with software costs, such a move could be cost prohibitive. Research conducted in 2013 by Techaisle*, a global analyst and research organization for small and medium businesses, indicated that 47 percent of small businesses said that lack of budget is a main  reason why they don’t replace older PCs, despite frequent issues and lost productivity. Yet replacing older PCs and getting current on Windows and Office will likely cost less in the long run. According to the report, small businesses are spending an average of $427 on repairs for PCs that are four years or older, and this doesn’t take into account the hours of lost productivity troubleshooting issues.               

Second, an organization can rethink their computing needs altogether. In fact, this strategy can be quite effective for a company already considering expanding their mobile capabilities. According to Dave Aitel, the CEO of software security firm Immunity, it’s conceivable that a small business could spend tens of thousands of dollars upgrading to a new operating system or new machines, making tablets a likely option to desktops.

“People are moving off desktop computers. They’re simply switching to what others would consider mobile devices, like tablets,” said Aitel.** Also, the availability of business apps for iPad may allow users to move to tablets completely, replacing their aging laptops. A key consideration in deciding on this approach would be to assess whether computing needs are focused on creating and maintaining documents versus interacting with the organization through email and business-related applications. With the cost of a tablet roughly equal to that of a PC, companies may also find that a tablet can be outfitted with the appropriate software more inexpensively than a PC.
 
Although saying farewell to Windows XP may be daunting, it opens new doors to organizations and users. Say “hello” to new devices, new applications and greater convenience moving ahead. Inaction is no longer an option.
*Techaisle white paper, The Aging PC Effect:  Exposing Financial Impact for Small Businesses
**Fox Small Business

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