REDMOND, Wash. — April 8, 2013 — On April 8, 2014, support will end for two venerable Microsoft products: Windows XP and Office 2003. This means that XP customers and partners will no longer receive security updates or be able to take advantage of tech support from Microsoft.
It’s the end of an era, but for businesses that still have PCs running Windows XP and Office 2003, it’s also an opportunity to make their IT more secure, mobile and productive and to meet the demands of the modern worker.
“Moving away from Windows XP to a more modern platform in Windows 7 and Windows 8 will ready your IT infrastructure for future technology solutions and growth of your company,” says Erwin Visser, general manager, Windows Commercial in a Windows for your Business blog post today. “Windows 8 is the modern OS for modern businesses, building on Windows 7 fundamentals such as speed, reliability and enhanced security, while creating a modern platform designed for a new generation of hardware options.”
It’s a process that can take time, but it’s also one that can get more expensive for procrastinators. Last May, in its white paper entitled “Mitigating Risk: Why Sticking with Windows XP is a Bad Idea,” IDC found the longer a company waits, the pricier supporting Windows XP is likely to get: IT labor costs could go up 25 percent in the fourth year of continuing to run Windows XP past next April. In the fifth year, IT labor increases by an additional 29 percent.
Although there’s a downside to waiting, Nick Parker, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s OEM Division, says the upside of upgrading is equally compelling: “From a hardware perspective, the benefits of upgrading to a Windows 8 device are very real for business customers, with new touch capabilities, tablet and convertible form factors, all-day battery, increased performance with the latest processors, TPM chips for enterprise security, sensors, stylus pens and HD cameras.”
One of the biggest cases for a modern PC is enhanced security. As the security landscape continues to change and new threats come to fruition every day, protecting sensitive customer data and IP against these threats is an imperative.
Although Microsoft will discontinue security patches for Windows XP next year, Windows 8 contains the latest hardware security-enhanced features and software enhancements to help companies stay safe, along with features such as BitLocker and BitLocker to Go to encrypt information stored on company devices no matter where they are.
For companies that need the utmost in security, some manufacturers have even coupled hardware enhancements with Windows 8 security-enhanced features. The Dell Latitude 10 tablet and HP EliteBook Folio 9470m Ultrabook both offer an optional built-in fingerprint and smart card reader combo for biometric access control and authentication.
Since 2006, many PCs are also equipped with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) security chip, a technology that was not readily available when Windows XP was first released in 2001. The TPM chip allows data to stay encrypted and lets networks check device integrity and decide whether to assign full trust.
A modern PC can also help workers be more productive. According to Forrester Research’s February 2013 Mobile Workforce Adoption Trends Report, 29 percent of the global workforce is characterized as anytime, anywhere information workers — those who use three or more devices, work from multiple locations, and use many apps. This is number has risen from 23 percent of the global workforce in 2011 and will continue to rise; Forrester predicts that 905 million tablets will be in use at work and home globally by 2017.
Parker encourages companies to keep up with these trends and outfit workers with modern devices.
“Modern users demand technologies that fit their personal work style and allow them to stay productive virtually anytime, anywhere, while businesses have an ever-increasing need to protect data and help ensure security, compliance and manageability,” Parker says. “We work very closely with our OEMs to design devices that deliver these requirements and a breadth of choice.”
For companies that have workers constantly traveling and value thin and light PCs to work from virtually anywhere, the ASUS Zenbook Touch UX31A, with its 178-degree viewing angle and high-definition, In-Plane Switching touch display, or the Sony VAIO Duo 11, which combines a touch screen convertible with a keyboard and stylus, are just a couple of examples of new devices available for Windows 8 Pro.
Other companies may need durability or versatility. New products, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch with carbon fiber construction and BIOS encryption, can offer great performance and enhanced security in a rugged package. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch is ultralight, ultradurable and ultraresponsive, thanks to a capacitive touch panel that yields incredible response time to 10-finger touch. Others, such as the Acer Iconia W700P, allow employees to tackle any task with ease, from pictures to Web browsing to spreadsheets. The 178-degree viewing angle, 10-point touch control and cradle allow for any perspective: portrait for viewing pictures or reading, landscape at 20 degrees for comfortable touch control, or landscape at 70 degrees for notebook-style viewing and keyboard productivity.
Since migrating to a new platform can take substantial planning and time to test and deploy across businesses, Visser recommends that “those that haven’t yet started their migration process need to begin as soon as possible to ensure that they meet the April 8, 2014, deadline.” The good news is that high Windows 8 compatibility with Windows 7 makes it possible for companies to have a custom adoption path that works for them, bringing in Windows 8 for targeted scenarios side by side with Windows 7 in their environment.
Companies in the middle of Windows 7 deployments or considering a hardware refresh should also look at areas in their organization where it makes sense to get touch-supported hardware, so that as they move to Windows 8 they are set up to take advantage of the full touch experience the new OS delivers.
Companies looking to make the leap can contact a qualified Microsoft partner and get started today.