The Right Path: How upgrading your office from XP yields bottom-line benefits

The time has come to say goodbye to Windows XP. Microsoft support for the venerable operating system officially ends on April 8, 2014. Many organizations continue to rely on Windows XP based on the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra, but the reality is that Windows XP is broken—just in ways that may not be obvious on the surface.

Switching to Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8 Pro yields both immediate and long-term dividends that make upgrading more than worthwhile. Let’s take a closer look at those benefits, and how upgrading from Windows XP will improve your bottom line.

Every Second Counts

The more time users have available to devote to productive tasks, the more value they provide. Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8 Pro both have features that shave time off of common tasks so users can get more done.

For starters, Microsoft has made significant improvements to boot speed. Most users are familiar with the seemingly endless grind of the boot process, but Windows 8 systems like the HP Elite series can go from powered off to the Start screen—ready to work—in less than 10 seconds.

Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8 also include features like Aerosnap and Jump Lists. Aerosnap lets you quickly maximize or minimize windows, or snap them to the left or right half of the monitor by dragging a window to an edge of the display. Jump Lists take the concept of Recent Documents that Windows XP users are familiar with to another level. With Jump Lists, each application has its own “Recent Applications” list, allowing you to pin items to the Jump List for quick access so they won’t cycle off as you open more files. Jump Lists enable users to save time by providing quick access to recently used files rather than trying to remember where it was saved, or first opening the application.

None of these features represent any sort of quantum leap in productivity. They’re simple tools that save a few seconds here and there. Consider that if you recover just two minutes of time per day for one employee making $50,000 per year, you’ll have saved $200 at the end of the year. Now multiply that by however many employees rely on your office network, and you’ll start to see big savings adding up fast.

Open Season

One area where Windows XP can’t keep up with its successors is security. There are vulnerabilities in an OS, but as support ends, minor nuisances can become critical threats to your business. Newer operating systems have security controls to mitigate those threats.

All versions of Windows encounter dangers, but according to data in the H1 2013 Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, Windows XP is about twice as likely to be compromised as a result of encountering malware than either Windows Vista or Windows 7 Professional, and nearly six times more likely to get infected than Windows 8 Pro.

Once Microsoft support ends, the idea that Windows XP works fine as is will be put to the test. Many security experts believe attackers are hoarding exploits for Windows XP, waiting to unleash them once Microsoft’s support ends. Attackers will also be able to dissect updates Microsoft develops for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8 Pro to determine where the vulnerabilities lie, then develop exploits for the same vulnerabilities in Windows XP, which won’t offer the patches to protect you.

Full Story: The Right Path: How upgrading your office from XP yields bottom-line benefits | PCWorld.