Microsoft calls on users to ditch XP

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Microsoft has warned end users about waiting for the release of Windows 8 to ditch decade-old operating system, XP.

In a post on the software giant's Windows Team Blog, the firm reminded users that support for XP will cease on 8 April 2014, which means they need to start migrating to Windows 7 soon.

"Windows XP and Office 2003 were great software releases for their time, but the technology environment has shifted," said the blog post.

"Modern users demand technologies that fit their personal work[ing] style and allow them to stay productive, while businesses have an even increasing need to protect data and ensure security, compliance and manageability.

Windows XP and Office 2003 were great software releases for their time, but the technology environment has shifted.

"It is in a company's best interest to take advantage of the modern Windows and Office software that is designed with these needs in mind," it added.

The post also warned users not to wait until the release of Windows 8 and Office 2015 to dump XP, because of the support problems this could cause.

"Not only is it important for companies to complete deployment before [XP] support runs out, but they should also be aware that upgrading to Windows 7 and Office 2010 [will help them] gain substantial results, while laying the foundation for future versions of these products," the blog post stated.

According to figures released by Microsoft last July at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles, there are 300 million "business PCs" still running XP.

Speaking to IT Pro, Clive Longbottom, service director at analyst Quocirca, said, as long as XP continues to do what they need it for, businesses will be reluctant to part with it.

"There is also the economic climate to consider. Many organisations that had included a move to Windows 7 in their budgets rapidly canned that when the recession hit," Longbottom said.

"Then, Microsoft comes out with its plans for Windows 8. So why upgrade now to a platform that will be out of date within 12 months?"

Microsoft should make more of an effort to communicate the security and stability risks associated with XP to lure people on to Windows 7, he offered.

"Once the business understands the constraints and issues around XP, pressure will be applied to move things along to Windows 7 or Windows 8 - depending on how dynamic and hungry the organisation is," added Longbottom.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.