Microsoft has many times tried to end support for Windows XP, and with good reason: it’s a very old operating system! However, each time they have extended support due to user and corporate outcry. The most recent announcement that came out in April was that support will finally end in April of 2014, no if’s, and’s, or but’s to the matter (http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/endofsupport.aspx). This means if you still have computers running XP they will not receive vulnerability patches after April next year which leaves your XP computers and data exploitable to malware authors.
Fortunately Windows 7 and 8 are available as replacements and are quite capable. Windows 7 works much like XP and users will be right at home while Windows 8 takes a couple of hours to get used to the fact that the ‘start’ menu button is now solely the Windows key… at least until the next service pack brings back a ‘start’ menu button to the task bar. The question becomes: do we buy new licenses or do we replace our computers? Let me break down my recommendation a little bit depending on your situation:
Scenario 1: We have software assurance!
Software assurance is great because it means you get licenses for the most recent software when it comes out, there isn’t any reason not to begin planning an upgrade!
Scenario 2: Our computers are old.
It’s time to replace the computers, they may begin breaking down and causing issues and outages soon. Furthermore, you can generally expect to get productivity gains by replacing any computer that is more than 3 years old that will mitigate the cost of the new computer. Head on out and replace all those old XP machines with new systems (I recommend sticking with one manufacturer/series in an organization to simplify things a bit, plus sometimes they’ll discount for quantity).
Scenario 3: Our computers are fairly new.
I’m not sure why you would still be on XP with new computers, but I know that it happens, especially when technicians were in charge that didn’t have an upgrade pathway planned, didn’t want to hassle with learning new systems, or didn’t want to run upgrade projects. It is a bad situation to be in, but if you are lucky the systems had Win 7 or 8 that were downgraded in which case the license for 7 or 8 may still be valid. If not, the best solution will be to purchase licenses for the systems in question.
All that being said, remember that Microsoft’s killer app is Office 365 and it is only supported on Windows 7 and 8 so by April 2014 organizations will want to be running Office 365 on Windows 8 (unless they are an open source/Linux or Apple/Mac environment). Of course these recommendations are somewhat general and each individual organization has a unique situation regarding their current state and upgrade path. If you want assistance dealing with your organization’s unique situation and upgrade pathway, feel free to contact us and we’ll help you get things on track!