Microsoft is offering SMBs with up to 249 users a 15 per cent discount on the combined price of Windows 8 Pro and Office 2013 upgrades if they buy before the end of June 2013. This is good news for cash-strapped companies and for those organisations still trying to make the business case for the upgrade.
It is also potentially good news for the Windows division at Microsoft, as it could help push Windows 8 into the business sector – a market yet to respond to the allure of Microsoft's message of a "Windows reimagined".
Microsoft must now combine its "Get modern" PC campaign with its Office 365 marketing push in order to move forward and regain momentum. Ovum suggests that businesses take a similar, holistic view in order to capitalise on this period of unprecedented technology change.
The security landscape of 2013 is very different to that of 2001, when Windows XP was first introduced, and there were no enterprise social networks, media tablets or cloud collaboration services for Microsoft Office to connect to or work with.
Much has been written by Ovum and others documenting the security issues of Windows XP and, for the most part, businesses have responded by moving to more modern and secure computing platforms and models.
But there is justified concern that after April 2014 when Microsoft finally stops releasing fixes and patches for Windows XP, organisations running the operating system could be targeted by hackers using exploits of which Microsoft and its partners in the PC security software industry remain unaware.
Our research suggests that 70 per cent of business PCs have successfully transitioned to Windows 7, and Microsoft is now making a concerted effort to help SMBs, which are among those it considers at risk when support for Windows XP is withdrawn, to make the move to a more modern and productive PC platform.
We think, though, that SMBs would benefit from more time to take up Microsoft's discount offer.
However, it is ultimately up to business owners and their IT professionals to weigh up the risks associated with running an unsupported OS and associated products, such as Microsoft Office 2003 – support for which also ends on 8 April 2014.
Richard Edwards is principal analyst at Ovum
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