After supporting Windows XP for the last 12 years, Microsoft’s technical assistance for Windows XP finally ended this week. So what does this mean?
Automatic updates that help protect your PC are no longer available, this includes security updates, which leaves your PCs increasingly insecure.
Microsoft Security Essentials anti malware signature updates will discontinue shortly.
Internet Explorer 8 is also no longer supported, and if you use it you may be exposing your business to additional threats.
New software apps and hardware devices may not work with Windows XP.
Why has Microsoft ended support?
Technology today is more advanced, and more mobile, than 13 years ago and the code underpinning XP is now outdated.
Should we continue to use XP?
Whilst there's nothing stopping your businesses continuing with the XP operating system, doing so leaves you vulnerable and the older the operating system gets, the greater the security risk. Simply, if anything goes wrong there is no support.
Upgrading to Windows 7
For some users, the Windows 8 interface might be a little too different, so Windows 7 could look like good option. So what are the considerations?
Microsoft no longer sells Windows 7 as an upgrade or boxed versions of Windows 7.
You may be able to find a boxed version on Ebay or Amazon.
You can still find Windows 7 PCs for sale, if you look.
So if you can get a copy of Windows 7 there are some other factors that you should take into account as well.
Mainstream support of Windows 7 finishes on 12 Jan 2015
After this date Microsoft will provide “Extended Support” until 14 Jan 2020. Extended support just covers the basics, there will be no new features and although you'll still receive free security updates, non-security-related hotfixes will only be available on a paid subscription--and you'll have to start the subscription within 90 days of mainstream support ending.
Upgrading to Windows 8.1
Windows 8.1 was designed to power the new generation of tablets and PCs, but there’s no doubt that it will look strange to long time XP users.
It does however have the same desktop as Windows 7, and you can get your PC to boot directly into the desktop mode. See the following tutorial.
Alternative desktop operating systems to Windows
There are viable alternatives to Windows, and as changing from XP to something else will undoubtedly cause some degree of disruption, now may be time to consider the market alternatives.
Apple's Mac OS X
Only available on Mac Mini, Mac Pro desktops or MacBooks.
Significantly more expensive than Windows-based machines.
Moving from Windows XP to Mac OS X will require you to unlearn multiple shortcuts and re-learn many more.
Linux variants, such as Ubuntu, offers a free (yes, completely free!) alternative operating system.
It will probably run perfectly on your Windows XP computer but you will need some technical know-how to and set up and there will definitely be a learning curve associated with using it.
The software that you are used to using may not be available for Linux and you may need to find an alternative.
Hardware support for Linux based systems is very good these days, but not all hardware may be supported so you will have to do your research before making any purchases.
Chrome OS consists almost entirely of just the Google Chrome web browser and is aimed at users who spend most of their computer time on the Web.
The only "native" applications on Chrome OS are a browser, media player and file manager.
Chromebooks can be used offline, with proper preparation, during periods of time with no internet access. See this tutorial for more information.
The machines are incredibly cheap - with prices starting at as little as £200.
Could I run my business using Chrome OS? In theory - yes. Some of your usual desktop based software may not be supported but there are some great cloud based alternatives such as Office 365 or Google Apps for Business.
Need some help?
Here at Rugged Data we do more than software applications for mobile teams. Please get in touch if you need some help deciding what operating system would best support your productivity.