Last week I published a poll blog post with the title "Poll: It is Time to Face Facts and Finally Dump Windows XP." I knew that the arguments I made in that blog post would generate a large discussion, and I appreciate all the different point of views expressed in the forum. However, there were a few misconceptions that I'd like to address.
Not talking to individuals
There were many members expressing dismay and even outrage that I would suggest dumping Microsoft Windows XP and questioning my authority to tell them what to do with their personal computers. As I stated in the original blog post, the advice I was giving, and the argument I make to support that advice, was directed at information technology professionals and business decision makers.
I was not talking to individuals, especially those on fixed incomes or with modest means to purchase new hardware and operating systems. The product life cycle for individual PCs is much, much longer.
However, with that being said, even individual PC users are going to have to come to grips with the reality that, eventually, they will have to purchase a more modern operating system and likely new hardware too.
The other misconception was that I was calling on businesses to throw away all their Windows XP PCs immediately and replace them with Windows 7 or an alternative operating system and with the hardware necessary to run it. Actually, I was advocating that businesses and IT Pros abandon Windows XP as the official operating system of their organizations and adopt a more secure, more modern operating system.
The days of mass deployment of new hardware and operating systems are long gone. The idea, and one suggested by many in the discussion thread, is that all new PCs coming into the organization would have the newly adopted operating system installed. In that scenario, Windows XP is phased out over time, and the financial impact is minimal.
Windows XP is not forever
A large number of members seem to be in a state of denial about the future of Windows XP. The fate of that operating system has been determined. Whether you like it or not, Windows XP is on its way out. At this point, it is just a bad business decision to proclaim that you, and the organization you represent, will never migrate away from Windows XP.
The business and IT world has evolved into a mixed operating system environment. As new devices are introduced into your network, you will have to learn to accommodate various and numerous operating systems, including Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS X, UNIX, Web OS, Android, Chrome OS, and Apple iOS and maybe one that hasn't been invented yet. This is just how it is. All I am saying is that you'd better come to terms with it and start planning how you will address these issues.
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It's not personal, it's business
The other misconception I want to address is the mistaken idea that I am advocating this move away from Windows XP because I am a technologist, gadget-loving geek who is always willing to try the next great thing. While that description may indeed by fairly accurate, it is not the reason I am making this argument.
I truly believe that if you and your organization, and again I am talking about the business environment here, do not keep up with technological changes you will lose ground to your competition. If you think the business environment we are currently in is fast moving, just wait until every worker on your payroll embraces the always-on life-style.
That means even the lowly receptionist, who was cited so many times in the discussion thread as an example of a user who does not need to migrate off of Windows XP, will be accessing your network all the time using various devices and operating systems. Your receptionist is going to have a smartphone and even perhaps a tablet, and these devices will be used to access your network. As an IT pro, you have to be prepared for what that means to the integrity of your network.
For businesses and information technology professionals, the decision has been made for you — Windows XP is on its way out. It is time to accept that fact and make arrangements to make the inevitable transition to whatever newer operating system you choose less painful and ultimately successful.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.