“Time is the fire in which we burn.” – Delmore Schwartz, Calmly We Walk through This April’s Day
This is one of my favorite quotes. To me it aptly describes that all things with the passage of time are used up and changed by the process into something new. This is especially true of technology. On April 8th Microsoft Windows XP will be no longer supported and should be migrated from all systems that use it. Windows XP isn’t the only Microsoft software that will be losing support. Microsoft Office 2003 will also be reaching end of life along with Exchange Server 2003. It is the end of an age — an entire line of Microsoft products that businesses have come to trust and rely on that will soon pose a risk to day to day business operations.
Windows XP found its way onto new computers as recently as 3 years ago using downgrade rights. Depending on the system, there might not be a need to completely replace the hardware. If you get a few more years out of the hardware with some fairly inexpensive upgraders, I believe it is worth taking the time to evaluate the hardware’s ability to support a Windows 8.1 installation. At this point, if you can find a copy of Windows 7 Pro to install on your machine you are in luck, but Microsoft is not creating any new licenses for Windows 7 so whatever is out in the world is all that is available. Windows 8.1 is going to be your go-to operating system for upgrading these machines. If the existing machines cannot support running Windows 8.1 and you have decided to replace your computers, you have until about October when Microsoft plans to stop providing new Windows 7 licenses to computer manufacturers like Dell and HP. I still stand behind Windows 8.1 as the best option for migrating. Windows 8.1 has run every application I have tried to install, and I can access all of my data on my file servers. The only pain point is getting used to the new start screen. Rumor is though that the next release may make this a little easier with which to deal.
When it comes to Microsoft Office, you may wonder why it would be important to upgrade when it goes out of support. Well, Office just like Windows can become a target for hackers. Frequently, viruses are spread through Office documents infected with viruses that target specific security flaws in a particular version of Word or Excel for example. Once Office 2003 goes into End of Life it will be just as big a target as Windows XP. Exchange Server 2003 is the same story as with Windows and Office just different software. If you are hosting your own email server and still running Office 2003, then Office 365 is an option I would strongly recommend. You get the latest version of Office for all of your users and get to offload the cost and headache of maintaining your own email environment to Microsoft. You no longer have to worry about your Exchange server crashing or making sure your backup is working on all your mailboxes or how much backup space those mailboxes take up. It is all included in the Office 365 service. If you have compliance requirements for email retention and legal hold, Office 365 has a solution for that as well.
It is important to have a plan or be developing a plan for migrating from these old software applications, servers, and operating systems. Let us help you develop that plan and implement it across your business. I will be holding a free seminar in the second half of April where I will introduce Windows 8.1 and talk about migrating from Windows XP and some of the issues that might arise. These seminars are small round table events open to questions and discussion so everyone attending can get the most out of the session. There will be a card sent out in the mail in the next few days with all of the information, once the date has been settled upon.