In the infamous words of Corporal Jones "Don't Panic"
Q: Our MD has arrived this morning quite worried about the prospect of MS ceasing support for Windows XP next year, so I was surprised to find no previous threads on the subject on UKBL.
Forgive my ignorance, but is it something we should be worried about if we're still on XP, or is it just a ploy to get users buying new kit?
A: Windows XP support is destined to run out in 2014 (April 14th), but it has lasted a while as it got released back in 2001. That's 12 years ago. (Windows XP - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
By the time they stop supporting it it will be 13 years old!
While its expensive for businesses and can be a pain for the users of those machines it is important for businesses to keep up with technology.
Developers of applications and web applications are getting more aggressive with their hunt to not support older browsers and architecture.
Putting the whole support side of things to one side, I would be more concerned about is the hardware you are running XP on, if (like a number of my customers) you buy your PC and OS together then its possible that the XP computers you are running are sitting on hardware that could be more than 10 years old.
Now I am not saying that you need to replace everything, but do bear in mind that the older a hard drive gets (because really this is the only bit of your PC that you cant replace without grief) the more chance it will one day start making that lovely click-click-clicketty-click noise and fail to boot.
If these PCs die you can't just transfer the XP licence (as its sold with the PC) onto a new box, so a new PC and OS will need to be purchased.
My advice to my customers is to not freak out and replace everything, but do budget for PC death at 1 a month, have a PC in the office that has windows 8 (or whatever you are going to use) on it and install all of your Business critical software, printer drivers etc on it so you know everything works (if you are running an old MS access XP application for example you may find that it access dlls that simply dont exist anymore).
This spare PC can be used for testing and training, so before John in accounts gets his new PC he can have a whizz around and get a feel for where things are.
Do bear in mind that a lot of consumers will be getting forced upgrades on Dec 25th that will probably already have an idea of how windows 8 works.
If you dont want windows 8 there are still copies of Windows 7 available (and windows 8 that will auto downgrade on install).
The bigger problem for SMEs who have server infrastructure, not just from a hardware point of view either, especially if they are running "Small Business Server 2003" as this does not play nice with every aspect of windows 8 (depending on how you use it).
Please if you are running a small business;
- Don't go and buy a ton of new kit in panic mode
- Do speak to people/businesses about what they are doing?
- Do investigate cloud storage/server infrastructure (it may be cheaper than you think)
- Don't discount Windows 8 because it looks different, it will save you money in the long run
- Do look into what sorts of devices your staff could use as an alternative to a desktop (table PC, iPad, android tablet, mobile phone, tough book, laptop), giving them the right tools will save you money and make them more efficient
- Do remember XP is solid and it will keep working for a long time
- Do run a test PC with your new OS on it with all of your business applications, accounting software etc, get heads of the business to use it as their base PC for a couple of weeks, you need to know it does everything you need it to before you buy new kit
- Don't expect your 10 year old hard drive to last 10 years more
- Do research sold sate drives as an option to replace not so old equipment as part of your tech upgrade/refresh
Feel free to contact me via via twitter @chillfire or email email@example.com etc if you need a hand with any of this, it's better to get fail a load of times (during testing) before you do it right once