In a recent company blog post Microsoft announced that it has commenced the two-year countdown to the official end of support for Windows XP and Office 2003, which will take place on April 8, 2014.
As Microsoft’s Stella Chernyak tactfully phrases it in the post: “If you still have some PCs running Windows XP and Office 2003 in your organization, now would be a good time to start migrating them to Windows 7 and Office 2010.”
I would argue — less tactfully — that if an organization still has PCs running Windows XP and Office 2003 then it is being careless about the security and productivity of employees.
Among my co-workers, those still using Windows XP are the ones getting hit with malware and viruses. Many who have upgraded to Windows 7 did so because their XP machine got a virus or was slow, overheating or crashing frequently.
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There are ample reasons to migrate off Windows XP to Windows 7, including vastly improved security and networking features, better support for modern hardware, and a much more dynamic user interface. Modern Windows 7 thin and light laptops are easier to take with you, and have much quicker boot up times than XP can offer for when you want to get to work.
Still, I often see that tired Windows XP logo floating around screens when I’m at places like the dentist’s office. I also saw it recently at a small law firm. These are small businesses where the staff is more focused on serving customers or clients than having the most modern PC or operating system.
Last week I was standing at the customer service desk of my eye doctor and spotted old XP on a two bulky desktop PCs. Tempted as I was to make a snide remark like “Hey, 2004 called. It wants its computers back”, I resisted. I had an eye infection after all and wanted to stay on everybody’s good side. And I’m sure for a small optometry outfit — or a dentist office or small law firm — Windows XP gets the job done.
But for large-scale enterprises, XP is overstaying its welcome like Brett Favre. These large operations need the speed, security and networking features inherent in Windows 7. At this point, employees should demand it and IT groups should accommodate an upgrade to Windows 7 ASAP.
As expected, Microsoft is offering its services to help with the transition. Here are some Windows 7 upgrade resources outlined in the Microsoft blog post.
The Springboard Series on TechNet include in-depth advice to help you with your deployments.
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) can be used to help accelerate deployments.
Look at the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) products, which include Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) to simplify BitLocker Drive Encryption provisioning and provides compliance reporting that can help you quickly determine the status of the entire organization.
Also consider Windows Intune, which offers PC management and security via the cloud, plus upgrade rights to the latest version of Windows – this is aimed at companies that have groups of lightly managed or non-managed PCs.
In related news, today marks the end of mainstream support for the embattled Windows Vista. You remember Vista, right?