"As much as there are considerable risks of these issues impacting system availability after an upgrade, there are also real opportunities to rationalise software and licences to make considerable savings."
As companies consider the move out of Windows XP, it might be worth their while to consider a hardware refresh as well, according to Edwards. Windows 7 currently has the lion's share of the NZ market at around 60 per cent, while Windows 8 and Vista have smaller shares each.
"We are not crying wolf about the end of support for Windows XP in April 2014. We are not going to suddenly extend support. Organisations should have started the migration process already. Many of those in the process of moving are deploying the Windows 7 platform. If they have not yet started the migration, and are looking to start the process, I would recommend they choose the Windows 8.1 platform. That platform affords better support for highly mobile and touch-based scenarios," says Edwards.
He points out that Windows 8.1 should be available for the public before the end of October, and urges firms with a largely mobile workforce to seriously consider the OS. He also states that Microsoft has enabled offers for customers and partners to help in either upgrading an existing PC to run Windows 8 or to assist with the purchasing of new PCs.
Recommendations for the move
Gartner analysts Michael Silver and Steve Kleynhans have three recommendations for organisations to ensure they will either be off these products or have considered the risks of continuing to run them.
" Understand the risks involved
Not having support means PCs could be vulnerable to attack. New vulnerabilities are always being found, and new vulnerabilities that are found in more current products could affect Windows XP and Office 2003. Any unpatched device can be vulnerable to attack. Even if a device is only a private network and has no Internet access, another device, even one running a supported product, can be infected with malware outside the private network and can bring it onto the private network, infecting other devices.
Many applications will no longer be supported while running on Windows XP. Organisations may be on their own to resolve issues and problems, which could result in system downtime.
" Assess position
Organisations that are not almost or completely finished migrating away from Windows XP and/or Office 2003 should review their project plans and ensure they are on target to meet the deadline. Those that believe they're unlikely to complete their migration projects by April 2014 should prioritise their applications and users and reduce the risks by addressing critical resources first.
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