Attention, all you Windows XP holdouts! How about upgrading to Windows 8 Pro for a 15 percent discount? If not, you know that XP support ends in a year, right?
That's essentially the pitch that Microsoft is making to small- and medium-size businesses, as it begins the last year of pushing XP-ers to join the parade of Windows 7 or 8 adopters before the plug is pulled exactly one year from now, on April 8, 2014. They'll throw in Office 2013 Standard, also at 15 percent off. Certainly, some additional incentives are warranted, given that an estimated 39 percent of desktop machines still run XP. Windows 7 is being used on 44 percent.
To get the deal, users must be running XP Professional, the OS and Office licenses need to be obtained through the company's Open License program, there is a limit of 100 licenses, and the offer is good until the end of June. Instead of $561 for the package, the discount prices them at $477.
Microsoft has its work cut out. A recent survey by application migration specialist Camwood of 250 IT personnel, each of whom manage more than 2,000 PCs, found that 15 percent were unaware of the support cut-off one year from now. Thirty-two percent have not started their migration.
A Camwood spokesperson said that it was almost certain that those who have not yet started to upgrade will be unable to complete the migration in time, given that upgrading only a thousand PCs, including applications and data, can take over a year.
A Microsoft Web site devoted specifically to this purpose of conversion has a large headline imploring companies still on XP to "get modern." In addition to noting the drop-dead date for XP support, which includes the end of security updates, it points out that support for Office 2003 will also end on that date.
The site warns of "potential business implications" for companies that insist on keeping the 12-year-old XP. Security risks, the site says, include the fact that "anti-virus software will also not be able to fully protect you once Windows XP is unsupported." It notes that many software and hardware vendors will no longer support their products for the unsupported XP, there will be "no one to call," and the risk of system failures and business downtime increases.
But, as they say in the infomercials: wait, wait, that's not all. Microsoft is also going after XP in a post on its Windows blog. "It's no question," wrote Senior Director Erwin Visser on Monday, "that Windows XP was an outstanding operating system to meet the needs of customers more than a decade ago." The OS was launched in 2001.
Microsoft is acknowledging that some users may not want to upgrade all the way to version 8, and might be happy with version 7. Yet another upgrade-from-XP mini-site lives on the company's Windows site, and offers two "Start here" buttons for the user, depending on whether they want Windows 7 or 8.
Some users might choose to move "their full company to Windows 8," Visser wrote, "and for others it may be migrating first to Windows 7." Yet others might want to deploy 8 side-by-side with 7, he said, such as Windows 8 tablets with Windows 7 desktops.