A number of people asked how long they will be able to continue to get support for their versions of Windows. As we enter the planning and budgeting season, I thought it would be helpful to outline the plans that Microsoft has for its different versions of Windows.

Still Using Windows XP?
Net Applications told us in April that more than a third of Windows installations were still using Windows XP. This version of Windows was released in 2001, but received a new lease of life when Vista was found to be so inept after its introduction in 2007. Microsoft ceased selling XP to the public in 2008 and sales to OEM users in 2009. Mainstream support ended in 2009, extended support (security and paid support only) will end in April 2014.

Windows 7
Windows 7 was released in 2009 and mainstream support will end in January 2015. Extended support will continue until January 2020. Windows 7 products are still available, but you are more likely to find them online or in office equipment and business stores rather than in Main Street stores. Microsoft has not yet announced when Windows 7 will be taken off the market. Because Windows 7 is still available, rushed decisions are not necessary. However when planning equipment replacement for the coming years, consideration should be given to the introduction of Windows 8.

Windows 8
Many people have described the upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 as being as complex as that move from MS-DOS to Windows. While there are changes in the way one has to organize one’s work with Windows 8, consider it a chance to become more efficient and effective.

The new Windows 8.1 upgrade came out on October 17, 2013, which is meant to simplify Windows 8 for many users particularly those without touch screens and who are lost without a start button. Having said that, there is undoubtedly a considerable learning curve with the new software. When companies are upgrading their equipment to Windows 8, thought should be given as to when and which departments should receive the new product.

BEWARE: If you are already using Windows 8 the upgrade to 8.1 is bundled with the new Internet Explorer 11 and it cannot be removed. There are many sites that are still not compatible with this level of Explorer. I would suggest that you do not upgrade to 8.1 until this problem is corrected this is likely to be in late November or December.

To the many companies out there is still using XP, I would suggest jumping straight to Windows 8 as it’s going to be the operating system for some time to come.

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