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Although Windows XP’s user share appears to have experienced a recent dramatic drop, a reminder/refresher about the looming April 2014 expiration deadline is still in order.

What April 8, 2014, means:

  • Microsoft will no longer offer new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates for Windows XP. The possibility of undetected security vulnerabilities will increase, making your unpatched system very vulnerable to security risks.
  • Most independent software vendors will also stop supporting the operating system.

Your options:

  • Do nothing for now, which is not wise. Updated versions of Windows and Office include cloud and virtualization capabilities, plus many more improvements designed to maximize worker productivity. If you or your employees prefer XP because it’s familiar or the perceived cost is less, you will fall behind on these new capabilities.
  • Pick a version and solidify a migration plan. Your decision to upgrade from Office 2003 is made when you choose to refresh your operating system. Several factors drive co-deployment of new versions of Windows and Office. One is that both are sometimes provided as part of the lease on hardware, which limits options to not only what is still in support, but to what is currently available for sales. Another is that it costs money every time a box is touched. Combining rollouts saves IT costs over rolling them out separately.

Points to keep in mind:

  • The average enterprise deployment can take 18 to 32 months, so it is now beyond crunch time.
  • Microsoft recently added a little snag for those still clinging to XP: In a Sept. 17 blog, Brandon LeBlanc, a Microsoft spokesperson, wrote “Windows 8.1 is not designed for installation on devices running Windows XP or Windows Vista” and that the new update was “not recommended” for hardware now running the two older OS versions. However, LeBlanc suggested that those still wanting to upgrade from XP or Vista should buy the retail DVD instead of using the download and boot from the DVD to do a clean install of Windows 8.1. Files, settings and programs will not transfer; files and settings will need to be backed up and reinstalled after a clean install of 8.1. (See links below for LeBlanc’s full post and for Gregg Keizer’s article about it in Computerworld.)
  • No matter which version you choose, the learning curve is unavoidable. A well-planned and executed training program can address the common needs, but individual end-user needs require additional support.

Further reading/resources:

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