5 Crucial Microsoft Upgrades That You Should Complete Now

“Upgrade”—the mere mention of the word can strike fear in the hearts of humble computer users. But upgrading doesn’t have to be a dreaded deed, especially when the health and safety of your computers are on the line.

Don’t believe us? Take a look at the recent changes announced by Microsoft. Along with the retirement of its CEO, Steve Ballmer, in August—and the heated search for his successor—the Pacific Northwest-based tech giant has stepped up its marketing efforts in relation to several major upgrades on the horizon. CMIT Solutions has compiled a list of the five most crucial ones, along with reasons why you should act now.

1) The biggie: Windows XP. If you haven’t heard, Microsoft will discontinue all support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. Why? Per the company’s Support Lifecycle policy, all Microsoft products are entitled to 10 years of support—five at the mainstream level and five at the extended level. That makes XP’s 13-year lifespan a modern miracle, particularly in today’s hyper-charged technological world. Once support for XP ends, sticking with it may expose your company to security risks, hacker vulnerabilities, HIPAA compliance issues, and a degradation of your system’s integrity. That makes upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 or Windows 8 your most important technological duty of the year.

2) The blue-collar hero: Office 2003. In tandem with Microsoft’s big push away from Microsoft XP comes a similar end-of-support break from Office 2003. The good news for frightened upgraders? Moving to Microsoft Office 2007, 2010, or 2013 provides for a much more seamless transition than moving from, say, Windows XP to Windows 8. And as Microsoft’s End of Support help page says, “This option has an upside well beyond keeping you supported. It offers more flexibility to empower employees to be more productive while increasing operational efficiency through improved PC security and management.” Who can argue with that?

3) The nerve center: Windows Server and Small Business Server 2003. While these business server solutions are intrinsically linked to Windows XP, Microsoft has mercifully extended both products’ support lifecycles through July 2015. But that doesn’t mean you should delay an upgrade to Server 2012—especially since Microsoft estimates that the average enterprise deployment can take 18 to 32 months.

4) The efficiency keeper: Exchange 2003. Although Microsoft has no plans to discontinue support of this version of its business email, calendaring, and contact database software, the company’s general rule of thumb is that support stretches back two previous versions. And with Exchange 2013 currently in deployment, that means your best bet is to upgrade to Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010 to avoid future compatibility conflicts.

5) The sleeper: Windows Vista. Anyone using Windows Vista is probably breathing a huge sigh of relief that they’re not part of the 37% of current PC users still using Windows XP. But even Charles Songhurst, former Microsoft Head of Corporate Strategy, once admitted that Vista is a “less good product.” With Windows XP on the chopping block, Windows 7 the new norm, and Windows 8 rolling out a top-to-bottom updated version next month, Vista will soon be the odd man out. Plus, as Computer World said back in 2009, “Windows 7 simply does everything Vista does, except better.”

Need help navigating the tricky upgrade paths listed above? CMIT Solutions has years of experience working within the Windows environment—and Registered Partner status with Microsoft. Call today and let us put that relationship to work for you and your business.

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