Microsoft support for Windows XP ends on April 8, 2014, but what does this mean for your school? The short answer is that you are on your own; there are no security patches, no hot-fixes, no paid support options, and no online technical updates. The more serious implication is that both your computers and your network will become much more susceptible to online threats – malware, viruses, and network intrusion. And these threats could seriously compromise the day-to-day operation and efficiency of your administration, staff and students.
Windows XP was first released in 2001. Other notable events from 2001 include: the start of George W Bush’s presidency, the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre, and Enron’s bankruptcy filing. Technology stories from 2001 include the first artificial heart, the shutdown of Napster, the advent of satellite radio, and the invention of the Segway. Why the walk down memory lane? Because Windows XP is a 12-year-old operating system; it has been a very good and reliable product, but it is at the end of its life cycle. And it is time to move on.
What are the alternatives to Windows XP and what is involved in moving to one of these options? There are three good options available for schools at this time:
- Replace XP desktops with Windows 7 – the pricing and warranty on off-lease or refurbished desktop Windows 7 computers has never been better. If continuing to work in a Microsoft environment (Office, SharePoint, Office365) is a must-have for your school, this is a very good option.
- Repurpose XP desktops with Edubuntu (an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution). You can likely use existing hardware to run the current desktop version of Edubuntu (with application packages for both elementary or high school). Although you still have aging equipment, the cost of moving from XP to Edubuntu is very reasonable – both in time and finances. If your school is ready to move to Google Apps for Education, Edubuntu is the most cost-effective way to get there in terms of end-point device support.
- Move to a mobile computing environment in your school – whether this consists of school-provided laptops, netbooks,Chromebooks, and tablets or it is implemented through a BYOD policy, your planning and spending focus is on the infrastructure side, not on replacing computer labs. And a mobile computing environment allows you to pick from any or all of the Windows, Apple, Google, and Linux platforms as your operating system environment.
The time is now to act upon the replacement of your venerable – but increasingly risky – Windows XP environment!