by Frank Wright, Service Manager
Windows XP set the bar for business friendly operating systems and has been in use for over twelve years now. Microsoft is now pushing users to its new operating system, Windows 8. Many users and administrators alike feel that Windows 8 will not be a suitable business friendly operating system for its users.
Another issue with Windows 8 is that many software providers still do not support it so as a business where should you be looking? Windows 7 has been the most business/application friendly operating system since Windows XP so that would be the best replacement.
Since Microsoft is discontinuing support for Windows XP, what does that mean exactly and when is it going to happen?
Microsoft has set a date of April 8th 2014 as the end of support date for Windows XP. Oh, 2014 you have plenty of time to plan down the road right? Wrong, when Microsoft stops supporting the operating system it will become very vulnerable to attacks so you want to make sure this is completed before Microsoft ends support.
Hackers will develop malware to attack XP and Microsoft will no longer be working to patch the holes that cyber criminals are using to steal your personal information.
Since support is ending it means that doing online banking or other transactions on your personal computer running this operating system will become extremely dangerous. In relation to businesses, they risk exposing client data which can be very costly. Businesses need to plan these operating system upgrades as it will take a decent amount of time/preparation to complete smoothly and successfully.
Planning means start now don’t wait till the last minute or you will not be able to get everything switched over in a smooth fashion. Since upgrading computers from Windows XP to Windows 7 is the best option to prevent major security risks what needs to be considered to accomplish this?
The first step in getting your company ready for operating system upgrades is making sure your software is compatible. Many organizations use software that is specific to their industry, the software companies that develop this software also needs to be preparing.
Companies should be checking with their software providers to ensure their software will work on Windows 7 and should get documentation on how to smoothly upgrade their computers software for the least downtime possible.
Not only does industry specific software need to be addressed but software you use every day also needs to be looked at. Most computers running Windows 7 are 64 bit operating systems, that being said not all software runs on a 64 bit operating system.
One application I can think of that is not compatible with Windows 7 (we have seen numerous issues) is older versions of Microsoft Office. Businesses need to not only keep their operating systems up to date but this software also should be. Office XP does not function properly on Windows 7 nor do any other old versions.
The other problem with keeping old software like this is the file formats have changed since they have been released. Your clients may start sending documents to you that your copy of Office might not be able to read. Office 2010 pairs well with Windows 7 and it supports all current file versions released by Microsoft.
One final consideration, many businesses and users alike want to know what it will cost to simply upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 however, there are two problems with this.
First, Windows XP to Windows 7 does not offer an in place upgrade, this means that all of your software, user files, etc. would be lost simply doing an “upgrade” to Windows 7. While user files can be backed up, software/applications cannot, they will have to be reinstalled.
Second, upgrading an old workstation may not be worthwhile. In most cases, older hardware was not designed to run Windows 7 and because of this tends to run slower and not perform as well as a computer that was designed for it.
We highly recommend upgrading the entire workstation to new hardware, especially in the case of businesses. It just doesn’t make sense to spend all the money on the time involved in upgrading the operating system if you can’t gain speed benefits and make your employees more productive.
Need a hand getting started with your businesses upgrade? Give us a call today at (734) 457-5000 and we can work with you on a plan to get your company switched over to Windows 7 so that your computers remain supported for years to come.