Standing Up for Windows XP: Business Owners Dig in Against Microsoft
It's not particularly sexy or even nice to look at, but lots of you still use Windows XP because it's stable and it still works pretty well.
But April is the cruelest month, as they say, and you can expect problems to ensue when Microsoft is expected to cease supporting the nearly 20-year-old operating system. If you plan to work on Windows, you'll either have to upgrade to versions 7 or 8, or just hope for the best if you decide to ignore the warnings and stick with XP.
"Currently we still have three computers running Windows XP and there really is no reason to upgrade other than the fact that Microsoft is stopping the support for XP,” says Vladimir Gendelman, founder of Company Folders in Detroit.
Gendelman's company is 10 years old and has 12 employees and more than $2 million in annual revenues. It prints presentation folders for other businesses, and has a total of 12 computers, half of which are Macs. Gendelman says he still appreciates XP's ease of use and stability.
"The older you get, the more you want things you need, not just because they're cool," Gendelman adds. "You want more basic things, and that is XP, I love it for its simplicity and the fact that it actually works."
Gendelman isn't alone. About 20 percent of all small-business computers in Western Europe and North America are still running XP, according to a Forrester Research Forrsights Hardware survey from the third quarter of 2013. (Forrester analyst Christopher Sherman notes in a recent blog post that Microsoft will still offer "custom support" for XP after the April 8 end-of-life deadline. But that's probably just delaying the inevitable, he says.)
Making the Upgrade
Expense and time to upgrade are two big obstacles for business owners. Robert Myers, president of RHM Homes, a seven-employee home-construction company with less than $2 million in annual revenues in Chagrin, Ohio, spent three days with an external IT specialist and several thousand dollars to port his system over to Windows 7 about two years ago.
"It was hugely complex, especially if you don’t have your own IT department," Myers says. "I needed an IT consultant to work with me every step of the way."
In addition to changing the OS, Myers had to make new backups of all his data and software applications, of which he says his network uses more than 100. He and his consultant also had to make a map of all the new drivers they thought they would need to work with the new OS.
"It was like doing a brain transplant," Myers says, adding he's actually happier now with Windows 7 than XP.
And don't even get entrepreneurs started on Windows 8.
"We hated Windows 8," Johnette van Eeden says. Van Eeden is president and founder of Star Wellness USA, an onsite medical lab and screening-services provider for small and midsize companies, based in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Star Wellness has six employees and 11 computers networked together in two separate offices. After the company upgraded to Windows 8 from XP at the end of 2013, van Eeden discovered it wasn't compatible with her phone system.
"It was a royal pain in the ass," van Eeden says, adding Windows 8 is also confusing and hard to learn, echoing similar sentiments from Gendelman and Myers.
Not only did Star Wellness have to downgrade to Windows 7, which is compatible with the company's phone system, it had to spend about two weeks sorting the upgrade and downgrade issues out. And she's still stuck with about five copies of the Windows 8 OS, which she can't use.
"We would have just stuck with Windows XP, if they had continued to support it," van Eeden says.