Time to move on from Windows XP

Windows XP is now eleven years old. It is the most successful operating system in history. XP remains the world’s second most popular operating system – around 25% of the world’s computers still run the software. XP remains popular with organisations that have large IT departments.

XP scores with its fans because it demands little in the way of hardware. It performs well on any computer built in the last decade.

Windows XP is mature, robust and relatively secure. Microsoft was slow getting its replacement out, so there were three sizable upgrades or service packs to plug all the gaps. This makes it popular with corporate IT departments, they see it as relatively easy to support and even easier as a development target.

Until now there’s been no compelling reason to move on from XP. Windows Vista was flashy, but demanding on hardware and offered little real advantage over XP. Windows 7 corrected these problems. It was a sensible upgrade for individuals, but failed to tempt the bulk of XP users who were happy chugging away with their existing applications.

If you chose not to upgrade from XP to Vista and Windows 7, you will have saved close to NZ$500 – at consumer prices. That’s money that possibly could have been better spent on hardware or applications.

What’s more, moving to a new OS is disruptive. Updating drivers and applications can be both painful and expensive. I had to buy a new scanner after the upgrade to Windows 7 because the old hardware wasn’t supported. There are applications sitting in my cupboard that won’t run on anything post-XP.

Now Windows 8 has arrived. It is faster and more secure than XP. It works better on the latest hardware, it more suited to today’s cloud applications and, if you want a touch screen, Windows 8 is the only way to go.

And with upgrades to Windows 8 Pro at NZ$50 a pop, it represents good value.

Microsoft promises to continue support for XP until early 2014, after that you’re on your own.

Companies should wait until their next upgrade cycle before moving and, possibly, consider adding touch screens at the same time. Individuals and small business owners may as well jump now, that NZ$50 upgrade price is for a limited time.

One word of warning. Make a complete back-up before upgrading and set aside a whole day for the transition. The update only takes minutes, re-installing applications, recovering data, tweaking the system and finding your way around will take hours.