On April 8th, Microsoft ended all support for its popular Windows XP operating system. That means the estimated 1/3 of PCs still running this 13 year old system are due for an upgrade.
While Microsoft recommends that users migrate to the new Windows 8.1 operating system, many users are choosing to take a smaller leap onto the Windows 7 platform. Which is right for you?
If you’re looking for an OS that will be the most minimal with regards to change and settings, then Windows 7 may be the one for you to start with. Strongly considered to be the most solid OS Microsoft has produced, Windows 7 will continue to receive security updates until 2020, while other support, i.e. non-security-related bug fixes, will end next January.
The benefit of Windows 7 for XP users is that it offers a familiar environment. 7 has a very similar look and feel to what users are used to with Windows XP. The “Start” menu is still there, and users can access programs and files in the same way that they do with XP. Windows 7 also boasts security features that far surpass anything offered by the XP operating system.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has warned its partners that a migration to Windows 7 is the wrong choice, and will end up being a disservice to the consumer. In fact, you can no longer purchase Windows 7 from Microsoft, but you can get it from other vendors and on some new and refurbished PCs.
Windows 8.1 will continue to receive mainstream support through January of 2018 and has extended security support though 2023. This OS is also a way for users to stay more on the cutting edge of technology and what is being offered. While some users may find the interface a little more complex to work with, there are different software solutions you can install to make the OS perform in the same way as XP or Windows 7.
The benefit of this system is that this is Microsoft’s latest OS, and the one that they’ve pledged to support for the longest amount of time. That means that if you upgrade to this system, you will not have to worry about migrating again until at least 2018. In addition, PC software vendors will almost certainly develop software for Windows 8, rather than 7.
Another benefit is the potential for a homogenous computing experience. Microsoft uses a version of Windows that is very similar to Windows 8 on its enterprise-class tablets and mobile devices. If you plan to take advantage of any of these products, you may want to move to Windows 8 to give your employees a more streamlined experience.
That being said, there are greater costs with moving from Windows XP to Windows 8, and there may be more of a learning curve with regards to handing its interface. On its end, Microsoft has been offering users a $100 discount and other free software for those that switch from Windows XP to Windows 8 OS, but these discounts only apply to certain machines at certain costs.
Which System Is Best for You?
There are definitely pros and cons for considering a move to each of the different systems, but the most important decision to make is to upgrade immediately, and keep your data safe. If you do choose to migrate to Windows 8.1, you will need to upgrade first to Windows 8, which will allow your data files to remain intact, and then update to Windows 8.1. Should you choose to upgrade straight to Windows 8.1, you will have to do a clean installation which will wipe your hard drive.
An upgrade to Windows 7 will be more thorough as the migration process will preserve your files and settings, but you will still need to reinstall everything.
So the question is, do you want to buy yourself more time with Windows 7 or do you want to take the plunge into 8? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Matt Smith works for Dell and has a passion for learning and writing about technology. Outside of work he enjoys entrepreneurship, being with his family, and the outdoors.