windows-xp-opportunityA week has passed since Microsoft’s end-of-support (EOS) deadline for Windows XP; and if you haven’t upgraded to a newer operating system yet, you may have realized that, well, not much has changed.

Despite being referred to in many cases as XP’s “end-of-life,” the reality is that post-EOS computers running XP will still work – but critical functions like security, backup and recovery must now be managed entirely in-house by businesses leveraging the nearly 13-year-old operating system. Additionally, XP compatibility for emerging hardware and software solutions will decline steadily as developers continue to focus on Windows 7 and 8.

Knowing all of this, the decision to abandon XP seems like a relatively easy one – but for many organizations, letting go has proven to be quite the challenge. 


The State of Migration

In a recent Spiceworks survey, 76% of respondents claimed to still support Windows XP – and even more surprising is that 44% of respondents with XP desktops and 42% of respondents with XP laptops were running it on more than a quarter of the machines in their company.

Headlines were also made recently when the UK and Dutch governments each signed multi-million euro deals with Microsoft to acquire an additional year of support for tens of thousands of public sector machines still running XP.   

Smaller organizations, on the other hand, may have an easier time upgrading.

“For some of the smaller SMBs out there it’s not going to be a big problem,” says Ray Vrabel, Director of Technical Account Management at Continuum. “They bought a new PC (at a retailer like Best Buy) and it came with Windows 7 or 8 and they are already up to date.”

One of the challenges people in all walks of business are going to face is trying to upgrade the operating system on hardware that wasn’t designed for it, says Vrabel. “There are probably people out there who upgraded the operating system rather than buying new equipment. XP was a very light OS and older machines may not have the performance specs to handle the heavier operating systems.”


The Opportunity for MSPs

So what does all of this mean for MSPs? There’s a good chance that some of your clients are still using XP – and the passing of the EOS deadline presents a number of opportunities for you to help them keep things running smoothly. Here are a few ways you can take advantage:

  • Security, security, security – This is arguably the most important (and most immediate) concern following XP’s end-of-support. Without proper security and risk management tools in place, it becomes exponentially easier for a hacker to breach your clients’ systems. If clients are hesitant to upgrade to a newer version of Windows, you may be able to offer them additional security services in the meantime; this can become laborious as you move forward, however, and ultimately it will be more scalable to help them migrate rather than implement custom patch jobs for an outdated system.
  • Outline all available options – Once immediate security concerns have been addressed, let your clients know exactly what their options are and how you can help them achieve success – whether it’s migrating to a new operating system, replacing outdated hardware or undergoing a complete refresh, your clients rely on your expertise to help them make the right decisions. Make sure your recommendations lead towards action; this will help keep your clients up to date while also uncovering revenue opportunities for you.
  • Migration assistance – One of the most effective ways to mitigate Windows XP concerns is to help your clients migrate to a new operating system. Make sure you have a packaged deal you can bring to clients that outlines the migration process and associated costs. This will make it much easier for them to make a decision and purchase these additional services from you.
  • Legacy XP Support – It’s imperative that any clients still using XP have installed all available system updates, patches and drivers before deploying additional third-party tools. You’ll also want to recommend deploying a modern web browser such as Chrome or Firefox, as Microsoft has acknowledged that Internet Explorer 8 is no longer supported and thus potentially unprotected.


Looking for more information about how MSPs can take advantage of the opportunities presented by Windows XP’s EOS? Click here to register for a live webinar presented by Autotask on Thursday, April 17 at 11am EDT. During this event, you’ll hear from a panel of experts as they discuss best practices to help you earn and maintain the trust of your clients while reducing XP-related vulnerabilities and helping them take their business to the next level!


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