At one time or another, we’ve all have had that worn out, but oh-so-comfortable pair of shoes. That over-stuffed chair with the protruding springs. That rusted-out car that no longer runs like a charm, but carries so many great memories.
However attached we become to these and other personal items, there comes a time when they really must be replaced. The same goes for software. If you don’t regularly upgrade your business software, you’ll inevitably pay a steep price in the form of escalating maintenance and support costs, slow performance, lowered productivity, and dangerous virus- and other security-related issues. And let’s face it—reminiscing about old software programs twenty or so years from now won’t bring about nearly half as many warm memories as that 1967 Pontiac Firebird of your youth.
You could say that updating business software is akin to changing your toothbrush after it’s seen better days. Can you imagine running Windows 98 on your home PC? Then why would you fight tooth and nail, stubbornly looking into a variety of contingency plans and options to hold onto Windows XP? Yes, it’s still as functional as an old pair of shoes and it’s done your business well, but the fact of the matter is that its shelf life is nearing its expiration date.
The XP era draws to a close
Microsoft will stop supporting the popular third-generation technology on April 8, 2014, spelling an end to updates, fixes and other related services. These are only a few of the drawbacks to hanging on. Others include:
- Missing out on powerful new features included with such programs as Windows 7, Windows 8 and Office 365
- Wasting exponentially higher amounts of time and money on custom Microsoft or third-party service and support for a system that doesn’t enable you to perform your job faster, easier or better than its replacement
- Leaving your aging, unpatched systems at the mercy of opportunistic hackers conspiring to bring your business down for fun or profit
If it’s any consolation, you’re in good company. Windows XP, currently running on about 38 percent of the world's 1.5 billion computers, remains the world’s second most popular operating system . That aside, the need to regularly upgrade all business software simply makes good business sense. Not only does the practice maximize business efficiency and individual worker productivity; it’s an essential element from a security perspective.
Security above all else
Maximized security is arguably the primary reason why regular business updates are so important. While 100 percent failsafe security remains the ever-elusive brass ring, routine maintenance and, more importantly, system updates enable business owners and administrators to stay a step or two ahead of cyber attackers on the prowl for vulnerabilities. Software and anti-virus program developers anticipate current and future threats, therefore incorporating defense mechanisms that your outdated solutions lack. Let them protect you.
If giant business entities can be hacked, without proper safeguards, yours can be hacked just as easily. Businesses are wise to take full advantage of regular updates and patches from Microsoft® and other companies, and to explore what system requirements must be in place when developers announce upgrades and entirely new software programs.
While optimum security is a primary reason for businesses to keep their software current, compatibility is another. Imagine the frustration of customers being unable to access your website for product and service information or to place orders. You may think you’re saving money by holding off on buying new software; but you actually may be losing it if time-strapped customers impatiently check out your competitor’s site and find it to be much more user-friendly than yours.
Then again, there’s also the issue of developer support. For companies like Microsoft, always working to introduce new offerings and improving existing programs, there eventually comes a point of diminishing returns. Even though they may not experience the same financial concerns as your business, developers increasingly reallocate support personnel and other resources to address bugs and technical issues in their latest releases. Which brings us back to Windows.
Hello, Windows 8
Windows 8, resident in key business focused HP products such as the HP ElitePad 900, HP EliteBook Folio 9470m Ultrabook, the HP EliteBook Revolve 810 and the HP Compaq Elite 8300 AiO, fully supports thinner, lighter and faster touch screen technology while delivering long battery life and robust security features.
Time marches on. It may be comfortable to remain a technological Luddite, but without the latest, most powerful and feature-rich software and applications, your business may not have the best available computing tools. Instead of old-toothbrush-related tooth decay or blisters caused by worn out shoes, it will be your bottom line that suffers.