I was asked a question on Monday that I hoped I would not hear it was “This XP thing, if we do nothing, what will really happen?”
This was a question from the person in charge of IT at my “day job” like a lot of small companies her role includes a lot more than just IT and often as not it was the IT that tended to get shunted to the end of the list. With my professional hat on and because I was a company user, I had hoped that my lectures on the need to move from XP to something more modern (delivered since Autumn of 2013) had not fallen on deaf ears but guessed that time and money both the enemies of our business had once again worked their evil spell and the chances of anything changing before 8th April 2014 was now remote.
The experts are fairly clear on this and according to them it is likely XP will be targeted by hackers support ends. But my overworked colleague is not the only one wondering if she can get away with doing nothing at all! It is estimated that as many as 30 per cent of firms have not upgraded from XP which begs the question why?
1. Cost: aside from the investment in new machines, there is also the time and money to do the upgrade. The company I work for uses an IT firm and one can guess that they will be looking for many thousands of pounds to do the work. But this needs to be set against the dangers of the loss of private data which could incur fines and the loss of productivity since a single compromised machine could bring the entire network of a business to a halt. It was mentioned that since my firm is small and unimportant they were unlikely to be targeted, a comment which simply proves the need for IT experts in all businesses! An upgrade to Windows 8 now could save thousand in the medium to long term.
2. Time: Many businesses are concerned about the time it will take to migrate to another operating system; it can take larger firms up to 30 months. Small firms can install and migrate in a fairly short space of time. I estimate the 100 or so machines we would only need 300-350 hours of install and migration time and with a server install this time could be reduced still further. Once you have completed the upgrade the time savings will be huge.
3. Training: I hear this one a lot, my own company is concerned that staff won’t adapt to the new operating system and while this may be true for some staff, many will already have Windows 7 or 8 in their homes and be used to using Android or IOS systems on their mobile devices. Often concerns like these will be more about the issues of senior management who are occasional users compared to their staff who will adapt easily. Which lead us neatly to the last item…
4. Fear of the new: Many businesses stick with XP simply because they are used to it and believe their staff are the same. They’ll trot out hardware excuses and concerns about some older application, but XP is more than a decade old and feeling its age. Even if it continued to be supported by Microsoft it is losing ground to its younger siblings and companies need to think that poor performance means poor productivity. In business outputs are all so it always surprises me that SME will often tolerate IT that would be more suited to an episode of “Flog It!” even though it costs them money they don’t have!
The message is clear, fail to upgrade at your own risk, you could be fine (for a while) or you could see your entire network corrupted. The danger is real and any reasonable prediction sees would be hackers trying out any and all vulnerabilties – simple because they can!
As for my lot in the day job, well I would not be surprised if they are not calling for the PCBloke in the very near future!