Microsoft will end support for the popular but aged operating system on April 8, 2014 -- one year from today. The company marked the occasion with a reminder for businesses still running the 12-year-old XP: You need bid the OS adieu.
"NOW is the time to move to a more modern Windows operating system and modernize your IT infrastructure," wrote Erwin Visser, senior director of Windows Commercial, in a blog post. "Businesses still running Windows XP are missing out on the tangible benefits of modernizing their IT investments from dramatically enhanced security, broad device choice to meet the needs of a mobile workforce, higher employee productivity and lower cost of ownership by future-proofing their IT investments."
[ Are you ready to make the move? Read Tell Me Again: Why Rush Into Windows 8? ]
It's no revelation that Microsoft's preference would be for companies to upgrade to Windows 8, the latest version, which Visser called "the modern OS for modern businesses." To that end, Microsoft sweetened the pot for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) that are still on XP: SMBs running XP Professional can get 15% off an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro and Office Standard 2013. (Microsoft will end support for Office 2003 on the same day as XP.) The offer is good through June 30 for up to 100 licenses of each. Companies must upgrade both Windows and Office, not one or the other.
XP still powers nearly 39% of PCs, according to the latest Net Applications stats. That's second only to Windows 7 (44.48%) in terms of OS market share. Windows 8 has garnered a 3.17% share since its release last year.
Microsoft noted that a move from XP straight to Windows 8 might not make sense for some organizations, such as those that already have a Windows 7 migration in progress. "Recognizing that not all situations are alike, businesses may need to take different approaches to their operating system migrations due to the specific needs of their environment," Visser said. Microsoft has also acknowledged that some companies might be best served with a mix of more than one OS, such as Windows 7 on some machines and Windows 8 on others, depending on user needs and other factors.
Visser's blog post offered another affirmation of the touch-oriented direction of Windows, not just on mobile devices but on PCs as well. Microsoft's enterprise chief urged businesses to consider touch devices -- "whether it is tablets, laptops with touch capabilities, all-in-ones, or other innovative devices" -- as part of any hardware refreshes associated with their Windows migrations.
"This way, companies conducting hardware refresh cycles can benefit from higher productivity of its users in the immediate term, while ensuring that they are modernizing an increasingly higher proportion of their installed PCs with touch capabilities – readying their business for the future Windows platform migrations," Visser said.
While Microsoft calls the April 8 end-of-support date for XP a "deadline," it's not actually one in the truest sense. XP won't suddenly stop working one year from now. And some SMBs have their reasons -- such as legacy apps, tech-laggard customers, or even printer toner -- for planning to keep at least some XP machines running for the foreseeable future.
Just don't expect any security patches or other updates after April 8, 2014 -- or much sympathy in Redmond if things go wrong.
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