The demise of Windows XP has been highly exaggerated. Microsoft’s announcements about plans to stop supporting Windows XP resemble the story of the boy who cried wolf. But the latest announcement is the real deal and it has significant ramifications for businesses that currently run Windows XP.
Since its release in the summer of 2001, Windows XP has been embraced in the marketplace. It followed the flop of Millennium.
The retirement of Windows XP will have a ripple effect on an organization’s ability to run a host of other software and even hardware like a docking station that does not work with Windows 8. Point of sale software and many other applications that businesses rely on for daily operations still are not compatible with Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8.
That means organizations have 3 options:
1. Run in compatibility mode.
This needs to be done manually on every device so it is a significant commitment of time for most organizations. This may be the best option for very small businesses with only a few users. By downgrading the software, organizations will lose some functionality. I recently tried to do this for point-of-sale software for a small business and found it to be quite cumbersome. I decided it’s far easier to find an older device with Windows XP than run in compatibility mode. But soon that will not be an option.
2. Run a virtual desktop.
The termination of Windows XP shows why it’s beneficial for organizations to move to a virtual desktop or web-based system. While this is the more costly path in many cases, it does protect organizations from being in this predicament in the future when systems change and then change again. It provides organizations with more consistency and a more seamless system. This option makes the most sense for an organization that is close to needing an upgrade in IT or has a large number of users.
3. Purchase new software that runs on Windows 8.
Yes, this could be quite expensive as well, depending on the software and number of users an organization has. It also requires a significant investment in time to move the data to the new software system, align processes and train employees. This makes sense for organizations that have grown out of a specific line of business software and would benefit from making a change. In most cases, it would not be my first recommendation as a CIO.
Which of the three options organizations choose depends on the number of users they have, the life of their current equipment and their needs moving forward.
How to Prepare
Leaders should begin preparing today by contacting the vendors of their line of business software (like CRM or point of sale) to determine if their specific applications are compatible with the new version of Windows 8. If it’s not, then ask when the upgrade is planned for. With that timeline in mind, an organization can develop a plan.