Hewlett Packard and Intel are both looking forward to the end of Windows XP on April 8, 2014.
After that date, official support by Microsoft for the operating system will end. This has significant repercussions for corporations. It will mean PCs will need to be upgraded to let Windows 7 or 8 to run more effectively. Needless to say, PC manufacturers look at XPs sunset to rejuvenate demand. Even as PC shipments declined over the last few quarters, the end of XP will force consumers and corporations alike to finally make an update. What are some of the things IT support will need to consider as the sun sets for Windows XP?
There are still risks that the uptick in demand won’t take place. Mac computers, albeit a more expensive solution, could be chosen instead of the “Wintel” standard. Tablet and mobile computers could still grow. If the mobile worker continues to be a growing trend, then corporations will not replace the fleet of PCs. Finally, a Linux operating system could be chosen. Since Google and other companies offer cloud-based productivity solutions, companies may opt for Chromebooks or “dummy” systems. This will reduce hardware costs substantially, but will be replaced by subscription costs for monthly support and for seamless software updates on the cloud.
Microsoft’s lack of future support for XP does not mean the operating system will cease to work on existing or new computers. All PCs have an x86 instruction set, so XP will still run on them. If corporations upgrade the hardware but keep XP, the computers will likely run more quickly. A fresh installation will boost performance, while a solid state drive installation will speed up load times. The caveat of continuing to running XP is that a security hole in the OS will not be patched. Software incompatible with XP could rise, as 3rd party vendors develop for Windows 7/8.1 OSes.
Still, consumers need not fret that support for XP is ending. Those who do not worry about the lack of support could save on OS software costs by updating hardware while still running XP. The average old PC could very well be used only to access the internet. Consumers may think an outright purchase of Windows 7/8 is required, along with a hardware purchase. The upgrade cost rises substantially when the OS and PC are purchased separately. Bought as a bundle from, say, Dell, HP, Best Buy, or Future Shop, consumers will end up spending much less. The excuse to upgrade will also be beneficial for consumers: larger displays and faster systems could be had for much less than ever.
Windows 7 or 8.1?
Consumers could choose between Windows 7 and 8.1 to replace XP. 8.1 makes more sense. 8.1’s metro interface needs a bit of getting used to, but it is far more stable and efficient than Windows 7. Corporations might want to upgrade first to Windows 7, because support is very good and the system looks and feels more like XP. Office printers may not have drivers for Windows 8 yet, and support for Windows 7 could be more likely. In cases where only XP print drivers are available, corporations might want to also plan printer upgrades.
As XP is sunset next April, 2014, corporations and consumers choosing to update to the new Windows will benefit from more usable features in the operating system. It will take some getting used to, but the online life on the PC will go on after XP.