The end of Microsoft’s most popular operating system is here. Microsoft ended Windows XP support and updates on April 8, 2014.

What Does that Mean?

This end of support is a big deal to a lot of people. It’s estimated that as many as 1/3 of the PCs currently in operation are still running XP. Many of these computers belong to small business owners: medical and dental offices, construction companies, and others that may be using proprietary software to run things.

  • The end of support leaves companies still using XP at risk for the following:
  • Increased vulnerability to hackers – Cyber criminals may be able to take weaknesses exposed by updates to later Windows operating systems and exploit them to steal data or plant viruses.
  • Expensive support – If something goes wrong, business owners will be responsible for finding the problem and fixing it.
  • Limited access to new software or tools – Software developers stop producing upgrades for the XP system.

Why You Should Consider Migration to Windows 7 or 8

  • Windows XP is 12 years old. Newer operating systems have advanced security features that can aid in deterring attacks. In fact, Windows 8 is 21 times less likely than XP to become infected by malware.
  • Improved performance and employee productivity. Newer, more powerful systems and updated software can give your company a burst of speed so that your employees can work smarter in the same amount of time.
  • Cost savings. It’s easier to maintain and support newer systems.
  • Support for virtualization and cloud technology. These technologies may be able to streamline your business processes and save you money.

What You Should Do to Upgrade

It’s not too late to update if you are still running XP. Here are the steps you’ll need to take:

  • Prepare – Take stock of your hardware and its capacity. Determine what can be upgraded and what needs to be replaced.
  • Automate – Eliminate the need for multiple technicians and long hours by building OS images and deploying them at once.
  • Implement – Make the change and test to make sure that your essential applications and data are still working
  • Educate – Teach employees how to master the new system.

What if You Really Can’t Upgrade Right Now?

There may be some businesses that, for one reason or another, choose to stick with XP for the short term. If you fall into this category, here are some steps you can take to make sure you are protected:

  • Install the final update and make sure your OS and Microsoft products are completely patched.
  • Use an alternate web browser (not Internet Explorer).
  • Install a firewall.
  • Uninstall any software that you don’t need.
  • If you can, disconnect XP machines from the internet altogether.

It’s still a good idea to upgrade as soon as you can, though.

What about you? Are you prepared for the impending XP expiration date?