Microsoft ends support for XP today, 8 April 2014, and despite widespread publicity, many businesses have yet to migrate to a new platform. XP is still being used on about a third of PCs worldwide as well as most of the world's ATMs.
There is a risk of losing data to hackers, who can take advantage of the fact that Microsoft will no longer patch the platform. Businesses that suffer client data breaches may be investigated by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and fined substantially if deemed negligent.
The numerous data breaches it has investigated make for sober reading. Organisations run the risk of losing the trust of their customers and ruining reputations that in some cases have been cultivated over many years.
Businesses that still rely on XP also need to think carefully about the implications for any software running on it. Few developers are going to continue to invest in ensuring their products are XP-compliant as it makes no business sense. They will be making sure their applications work on new operating systems.
If a business relies on applications that will grind to a halt soon, it is running the risk of serious disruption to its operation.
Many businesses are outsourcing the migration. And in fact, for many it is the best opportunity in years to take stock of their desktop infrastructure and think about how it can be matched to its strategic goals.
For many businesses, a cloud-based operating system will be the more cost-effective and less labour-intensive option.
For large organisations with hundreds of users, employing a managed services provider makes sense because many individuals can be migrated at the same time, from a single central point.
After that, the provider can continue to monitor and update their desktop infrastructure.
Many organisations can free up their IT teams from "keeping the lights on" type of activity and channel their expertise into strategic IT developments that help improve productivity and enable growth. Cloud migration can also push more IT into Opex, reducing capital outlay, of course.
Businesses that are still reliant on XP need to think carefully and quickly about their plan of action.
Andy Brown is managing director of Advanced 365-SME at Advanced Computer Software
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