The End of Windows XP: What it Means to your MSP Business

Scott Calonico

Microsoft’s official support for Windows XP ends on 8th April 2014.

Windows XP has (arguably) been Microsoft’s most successful operating system. Its follow-up, Vista, was widely lambasted by IT experts and consumers alike.

As a result, many companies and individuals decided to stick with Windows XP. Microsoft quickly realised how little users were taking to Vista, as did hardware manufacturers, many of which for years provided an XP downgrade option with new business PCs.

Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest operating system, has been met with almost as much controversy as Vista, but has perhaps fallen more into the “love it or hate it” column, rather than being completely condemned. Meanwhile, Windows 7, its predecessor, has for many become the spiritual successor to XP. It’s an operating system that’s fast, stable and reliable – and now in place within many businesses that skipped Vista altogether.

There are still, however, plenty of companies and individuals happily using XP. If you run an MSP business you may still support some of them. They’re now starting to run out of time to bring things up to date.

The official end of support means that Microsoft will no longer issue any security patches for XP. There will also be no onus on software companies to ensure that new revisions of their products remain compatible.

So, if you still have clients running Windows XP, here are a few things you should do. The good news is that there’s undoubtedly some revenue there for the taking.

  • Familiarize yourself with all the different editions of Windows 7 and 8, their licensing options, and their prices.
  • Learn, in detail, the best ways to upgrade computers to the new operating systems.
  • Approach all clients who are still using XP, and emphasize the importance of moving away from it before the support deadline.
  • Consider producing a whitepaper or information sheet detailing, in plain English, the risks customers take by refusing to upgrade.

If you handle this process correctly, you should find that the vast majority of your XP customers understand that upgrading is essential. You are then free to make money from various different angles: profit on reselling licences, hardware upgrades needed to ready equipment for migration, and consultancy time in bringing your clients up to date.

It’s also worth taking note of the fact that support for Microsoft Office 2003 ends next year as well. Given that there have now been several new versions since 2003, you would think that everyone has already upgraded, but there are still plenty of copies in use.

While it’s inconceivable to think that there are still people out there that struggle with .DOCX and .XLSX files, and have yet to use the “ribbon” interface, they are still out there. Find them, and you can make plenty of profit on new software!