Phasing out Windows XP

Phasing out Windows XP

With Microsoft ending all support for Windows XP in April, there are still many large organisations running a desktop infrastructure based around the 13 year old operating system that will be leaving their client computers more vulnerable than ever. The ending of support marks the end of an era, with XP being widely regarded as the OS that took personal computing mainstream by providing a slick and intuitive interface; its popularity is signified by its dominance in large corporations even 13 years since its release. With Windows 8 being unpopular with many end-users because of the removal of the Start menu, the only real choice for corporations that keeps colleagues happy and ensures the development of a safe and secure platform is Windows 7.

The requirements of security

The ending of official support from Microsoft for Windows XP also means that there will be no more bug releases or security patches to cover any new vulnerabilities that are discovered in the operating system. This will leave systems running Windows XP more open to attack as hackers exploit such vulnerabilities and obviously for large businesses, this could spell disaster if they find large collections of Windows XP computers being hacked and either having data stolen or being rendered unusable.

More efficient use of hardware

Hardware has advanced significantly since the introduction of Windows XP and the chances are that unless you’re running Windows XP x64, which is highly unlikely, the operating system probably isn’t taking full advantage of the hardware that it has at its disposal. An upgrade to a more operating system that features components and services developed specifically to exploit the capabilities of modern hardware will produce a more efficient infrastructure where a single piece of hardware will be able to produce more results in a shorter space of time.

Training colleagues

When introducing a new technology into a business environment, it is vital for training to be provided to colleagues so that they are able to maximise the use of new technologies in their roles so that you are able to actively work towards achieving your ultimate goal, which should be to boost productivity. Using Windows XP to Windows 7 as an example, the major differences between the two lie in the underlying architecture and code powering each platform and the visual design, although for the most part the placing of icons and services has remained the same most importantly, there is still a Start menu in Windows 7!

Providing colleagues with specialist training will ensure that they are comfortable with a phased conversion from Windows XP to Windows 7 and that being introduced to a new operating system doesn’t hinder their productivity, but instead enhances it. Training for IT colleagues should be focused on carrying out a quick and efficient deployment that is relatively issue free, but it is also important for them to possess the skills and knowledge necessary to support end-users using the technology and to diagnose and troubleshoot any problems that could arise post-introduction.

The cost should be seen as an investment

Although the initial cost is going to be a large sum that can be described as capital expenditure, your IT infrastructure is probably core to the running of your company and to let it degrade in any way or to be left vulnerable would be irresponsible and could cost you far more than the sum of an upgrade if it were to be attacked.

Further to this, any upgrade made now is likely to last for years yet and if the phased out support of Windows XP is anything to go by, then we shouldn’t see Microsoft withdrawing support for Windows 7 until 2021/2022 at the earliest, giving an upgrade now a lifespan of around 7-8 years. Obviously choosing Windows 8 rather than Windows 8 would deliver a platform with a longer lifespan, but the unpopularity here could cause morale issues with colleagues and would probably require a greater outlay for training.

I’m of the opinion that large corporations should have phased out Windows XP a long time ago, regardless of the security infrastructure that they have in place. As an operating system, Windows XP is no longer equipped with the features necessary to deal with what the modern workplace has to throw at it and is unable to fully take advantage of the high spec hardware that accompanies a majority of desktop computers these days.