In less than 7 days, Microsoft will quit supporting the Windows XP operating system. This has huge implications for lots of entities, especially for many nonprofit organizations, as it is common for nonprofits to use outdated operating systems in an effort to reduce information technology costs.
Why is this important?
Microsoft Windows, like most software vendors, maintains a cycle of software updates for their old products, which address bugs in the software, as well as security concerns. When Microsoft quits supporting an old version of their software, and the software’s “End of Life” date is met, no more software patches will be released for security concerns or bug fixes.
However, like all software, Microsoft’s products are not immune to security issues. Indeed, Microsoft Windows is actually known to contain many security issues that regularly need to be “patched” (or fixed). So when support is pulled for a product, no more fixes are issued, but that doesn’t mean that new security issues will come up.
What Can You Do?
The safest, and most obvious option, is to upgrade your computers to a later version of Microsoft Windows. However, this isn’t always as easy as it may seem. Newer versions of Windows can sometimes have higher system requirements (such as more memory or more disk space). Additionally, upgrades do not always go perfectly, and there is always the chance that data could be lost. And finally, older computers have a higher likelihood of crashing – so even if an upgrade were to go smoothly, your old computer may crash soon afterwards!
As a result, I recommend that organizations purchase new computers, and then copy their old files and folders from the older computer to the new. That said, I also always recommend that nonprofit organizations have a secure and reliable backup solution in place, and if possible, to not store important data on an individual computer.
How To Access Newer Versions of Microsoft Windows
Many businesses and nonprofit organizations can setup an account for Microsoft Volume Licensing. If you are interested in this option, contact a local IT Vendor that sells Microsoft products to give you a quote for the volume licensing option.
Another option for nonprofit organizations is to purchase their software at a highly discounted rate through TechSoup. TechSoup is probably the best source of discounted software for nonprofit organizations.