Microsoft is urging businesses still stuck on Windows XP not to wait for Windows 8 and instead make the move to Windows 7 now.
In a blog posted Monday, Microsoft's Rich Reynolds explained the need for companies to move to Windows 7 as Windows XP will no longer be supported after April 2014.
Though 2014 sounds like a long ways off, businesses typically need a fair amount of time for any type of major migration. Planning, testing, user training, and the actual rollout can easily chew up the better part of a year or sometimes more.
The ending of full support for XP means that Microsoft will no longer provide security fixes or other updates for the OS, leaving companies vulnerable to malware. And come 2014, it's a safe bet that many a malware writer will specifically target holes in Windows XP knowing that the OS is no longer being patched.
Assuming Windows 8 is released by the end of 2012, that would give companies running XP a little more than a year to plan and deploy an entire migration to the new operating system, which could be cutting it very close.
To back up its advice, Microsoft cited a Gartner report called "Don't Change Your Windows 7 Plans Because of Windows 8," which urged companies now running XP to concentrate on their migrations to Windows 7 and not wait to switch to Windows 8.
Windows XP is 10 years old, yet it still holds a lot of traction among both individual and corporate users.
Recent stats from Net Applications show that although XP's grip has loosened over the years, it continues to be the leading flavor of Windows with around a 50 percent market share. Microsoft also concedes that a fair number of users are hanging tight with XP.
"While more than 90 percent of you have said you're committed to Windows 7 and Office 2010, many of you have many of your PCs still running Windows XP and Office 2003," said Reynolds in the blog." Moving to Windows 7 and Office 2010 today enables you to embrace the way we work today versus the way we worked 10 years ago."
To help large businesses plan the leap to Windows 7 Microsoft offers a variety of online resources, including The TechNet Springboard series, the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, and the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack.
Despite its push to convince companies to jettison XP, Microsoft may still find a lot of holdouts. A survey of IT pros conducted in November found that half of them plan to stick with XP even after support is turned off in another two and a half years.