April 8 was an important day for Microsoft, as this was the day the tech giant pulled support for probably the most popular operating system (OS) in history – Windows XP. If your business uses Windows XP, you are likely already considering upgrading your systems. However, a common stumbling block to achieving this is deciding what systems you should upgrade to?
Should I actually upgrade?
There have been a number of articles in the news focusing on whether XP is really worth upgrading from, especially since some of the major governments still use XP. Elements of the UK, Dutch, and even US governments still use XP on a large percentage of computers and are not really looking to upgrade. Instead they are looking into paying Microsoft to keep up support.
In fact, one news report noted that the UK government paid Microsoft USD 9.1 million for further support of public sector systems running XP. News like this could give business owners the notion that If the governments are sticking with XP, that means they can too.
However, the vast majority of businesses likely don’t have the money in their budget to warrant continued coverage from Microsoft, if that option were available. The other point is, Microsoft probably won’t agree to this continued support either because they are likely more interested in businesses upgrading instead. What this equates to is the fact that, ignore it or not, your business is going to need to upgrade.
What are my upgrade options?
If your systems are still running Windows XP you have a number of upgrade options available to you. Here are four:
1. Windows 7
Windows 7 is by now the most popular version of Microsoft, and is in fact the closest system to XP. Because of this, it’s the preferred choice for business owners and managers. It is also ideal because the hardware requirements are generally lower, so businesses running older computers will likely be able to run Windows 7 without the need for costly upgrades. Another positive is that Microsoft has said they will continue support until 2020, the knock-on with this is that software developers will also continue to develop programs that support this version.
The issue with Windows 7 is that any new computers purchased from stores will likely come preinstalled with Windows 8, so it will take an extra step or two to downgrade new systems. Luckily, an IT partner, like us, can help with this.
2. Windows 8
Windows 8 is the newest version of Windows and represents a bit of a departure from the traditional layout of Windows XP and 7. With a new, modern tile based layout, it can be tough for some users to get used to the new system. While the more traditional desktop is still there, it’s not the OS of choice for many businesses.
That being said, Microsoft has moved to a more regular update stream, with changes and features being updated and changed on a near yearly basis. This could go a long way in helping employees get more out of the OS and even increase overall productivity.
The biggest advantage of Windows 8 is that it is generally easier to find and implement. This is because almost all new PCs will come with it installed, especially when you buy computers from large retailers.
In order to get the most out of Windows 8 however, you may need to upgrade your hardware because it may not be able to run the OS effectively. If you plan to replace all of your hardware, than Windows 8 may be the most viable solution.
Linux is an open source operating system that has numerous versions, like Ubuntu, that are almost all free. One of the biggest advantages of these systems is that they are more secure than Windows – largely because they don’t support the same file extensions (.exe) as Windows.
Linux is a good option for users whose needs veer toward the simple side, or who would prefer not to upgrade hardware – Linux can be installed on almost any system. If you really only just use email or your browser, these systems could be a viable option. That being said, there are limitations to this system. The first is that there aren’t as many programs available. So, if you have a specific program that was built for your business it may not work with Linux.
The second disadvantage is that the systems are generally harder to operate and maintain than Windows. When using in business, or migrating, you will likely need the help of an IT team or partner who can not only help you navigate the numerous versions of Linux but also carry out the migration and maintenance of your systems.
Another option that is quickly becoming popular with many smaller businesses is to move to Apple’s Mac computers. Macs offer a generally stable and secure platform that is also easy to use.
The main downside of migrating to Macs is that you are going to have to buy new computers, as OS X, the operating system used by Macs, requires specific hardware. Another downside is that while the popular software programs like Microsoft Office are available for Mac, you will need to purchase the Mac version. Other programs may not be available. or supported by this system, so it is advisable to consult with an IT partner like us before migrating.
If you are still using Windows XP, you should look to develop a migration plan as soon as possible. We can help you with this by getting to know your needs, budget, and existing systems and then recommending a new system that will best meet your needs. Contact us today to get started.