by Tony Rushin
Microsoft’s incredibly popular, and stable, operating system – Windows XP – is less than one year away from its sunset date of April 8, 2014. For good measure, Microsoft is also ending support for Office 2003 on that same date. After that time Microsoft will no longer provide security patches or other updates to the software.
XP was “born” on August 24, 2001, so it will be almost 14 years old next April… that’s nearly 98 years old in operating system years! XP has been a workhorse and still, according to Global Stats, is running on nearly 24% of the PCs in the world (as a comparison, 6% run Vista, 52% run Windows 7 and 3% run Windows 8).
Since no support means no security patches, you can rest assured that the bad guys will be targeting these 24% of PCs next year. Don’t take the risk of being exposed; start planning now to upgrade your PC. Even if the bad guys don’t get you, 3rd party software and printers will stop supporting XP which means you won’t be able to print or run your favorite software if you hang on to your Windows XP machine for too long.
Here are some tips to help you plan your upgrade:
- Plan to replace at least 25% of your XP machines each quarter – starting now – so they are all replaced by March 31, 2014. For example, a law firm that has 8 XP machines should plan on replacing two machines each quarter for the next four quarters.
- Don’t load a new operating system on an old PC; buy a new PC with Windows 7 on it. Most likely if the PC is running XP it’s 4+ years old. The time and pain involved to upgrade an old, slow PC will far outweigh the price of a new computer.
- Yes, we said to buy a new PC with Windows 7 on it. Windows 8 has some great, and fun, features but it’s not ready for wide deployment in the business world (see David Gracey’s Tuesday Tip: Windows 8 – Is Upgrading Worth the Hassle?). Business-class PCs will have the option to get Windows 7 preloaded on them for another year or so.
- Have some fun and buy a Windows 8 machine if you’d like. Consider Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet or a touch screen PC to take advantage of the features in Windows 8.
- A caveat to the above: If you use your home PC a lot for business, you should probably stay away from Windows 8 for now. However, you may need to search pretty hard for a consumer-grade PC that will come with Windows 7 preloaded.
- If you can wait for Black Friday there are typically some bargains – both bricks and mortar retail plus on-line. On the last two Black Fridays I’ve gotten a good laptop deal: at Best Buy for my wife’s home-based business and on-line from g for my son at Georgia State.