We knew it was coming, ever since the release of Windows 7, XP’s lifespan was on the wane. Microsoft warned everyone that they would cease support for the operating system, stop including it in the patch release schedule and other software vendors would also stop. Microsoft was kind enough to offer extended support, mainly due to the sheer number of organisations that used the operating system. Even that comes to an end soon, on the 4th April 2014. While that does seem a long way off, if you have to put a project together to plan for a change of operating system, possibly hardware upgrades, data migration, application migration and the myriad of finer details involved in an operating system upgrade, it isn’t long at all. There are two main reasons why every business needs to upgrade from Windows XP. Security and compliance. Windows XP was never a particularly secure operating system. Fortunately when risks were highlighted, Microsoft or supporting vendors would patch the vulnerability out. They all stop on that date in 2014. Compliance is less an issue here than in the US, but we are still subject to several compliance laws. If you do business with the US, your obligations will include data security, email security and the protection of personally identifiable information. Our own Data Protection Act also demands proper security of computer data. Maintaining Windows XP machines, after they ceased to be supported by security vendors is likely to contravene that Act. While cost is certainly an issue, so is exposure to security risks and system reliability. Both things XP was never very good at when it was new and fully supported. The relatively slow uptake of Windows 8 means there are still plenty of deals around for users who need to upgrade. If your system will run Windows 7, chances are it will run Windows 8 too. There are still an estimated 500 million Windows XP machines out there in the wild. That is entirely too many. While it was fairly stable once you got it working, the newer versions of Windows far outperform XP in security, performance, usability and reliability. While nobody is going to force you to make a potentially large investment in your IT, we are going to suggest it most strongly.

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