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Why You Should Ditch Windows XP

According to StatCounter (http://gs.statcounter.com/#os-ww-monthly-201009-201110), Windows 7 finally surpassed Windows XP as of the start of this month. Considering Windows XP is going on 10 years old and is no longer in mainstream support by Microsoft, it may seem surprising that it is as widely used today as it is. There are several reasons why Windows XP is so deeply entrenched but more importantly there are a number of reasons why you should consider ditching Windows XP and upgrading to Windows 7. These reasons break down to compatilibity, security and ongoing support.

The world of software is fast moving and rapidly evolving, a moving target which it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with. It is also highly competitive. Software vendors in competitive markets are constantly trying to find the next thing they can add to their software that will convince consumers to upgrade or switch from a competing platform. Many times this involves a facelift to improve the look of an application or perhaps some new services offered through the company directly. Other times this involves additional integration with the operating system. Windows XP is, in software terms, archaic. It has been explored at depth and there is really nothing new to be found there. Software focusing on capabilities built into XP are offering nothing new to the user. As a result, companies are turning to features offered in Windows 7 in order to present a fresh look. Slowly they are cutting support to their applications available on XP, offering only support to versions which are targeted at Windows 7. As this continues it will become increasingly difficult to retain warranties and maintenance agreements with these companies which in turn will make it difficult to receive support or reduced cost upgrades as you fall further behind the version schedule. By staying up to date with your OS, you’ll be able to stay up to date with your third party software and take full advantage of new features and bug fixes that are available only in the latest versions.

Then there is security. One of the big factors involved in the development of Windows Vista, the direct descendant of Windows XP, was the large number of security issues which had cropped up throughout Windows XP’s deployment. Windows 7 has refined these security enhancements, with better controls on accessing the filesystem, increased security in the browser and better native defenses against malware. While Windows XP might receive security updates, these updates are after the fact patches of existing holes in Windows XP, not introduction of wholesale rewrites of the OS to tighten security. As a result, there will be no further refinement of security on the XP platform. Windows 7 offers the opportunity to increase your security through upgrading your OS.

Speaking of updates, Windows XP isn’t receiving many. That’s because it has left mainstream support and entered extended support. This means that there are no more design changes, no more bug fixes, no more free tech support, and no more warranty claims. As mentioned before, security updates are provided but they can’t fix systemic flaws, only patch holes with minor editing. And while it’s three years, out, by 2014 XP won’t even receive that. That’s 13 years of support, the longest I’m aware of for any one version of an OS, but it will run out. It would be better to already have transitioned to a newer OS before then, rather than waiting until you have absolutely no other options.

Some of our clients have avoided upgrading to Windows XP in spite of our strongest suggestions. They have older hardware that doesn’t meet the minimum system requirements for Windows 7 or in some cases simply don’t want to learn the new system. The fact is that over time, more money will be sunk into supporting the old hardware to keep XP running than it would take to simply purchase a new system running the latest OS, along with an increase in performance. Additionally, at some point the hardware will fail and they will be faced with not only having to purchase new hardware but simultaneously learning the new OS as well as perhaps even new applications.

In the end, sticking with Windows XP is simply going to become impossible or at least untenable for your business. The longer you wait to upgrade, the harder it will be when the time does come. It might hurt a little now, but better a little pain now rather than a lot later on.

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