By Daniel Hunter

On 8th April 2014 Microsoft will end 13 years of support for Windows XP, but are businesses prepared?

Independent research by rationalisation specialists Camwood shows that while 82% of CIOs, CTOs and IT Directors are aware of the demise of the ‘workhorse’ operating system, only 42% of companies have started to migrate, despite Microsoft’s warning of a recommended 18-30 month window for successful migration away from XP. Furthermore nearly one quarter cite the business as one of the main barriers to migration.

The Vision Critical study, the most comprehensive of its kind, polled 250 CIOs, CTOs, IT Directors and IT Managers exclusively from within large UK enterprises of over 2,000 employees. The study also found that other key barriers to migration amongst those XP users who had not yet started included ‘concern about the migration process’ (21%) and ‘lack of budget’ (16%).

Perhaps most worryingly, nearly 1 in 5 IT decision makers currently running XP plan to continue using Windows XP after the end of support, putting their business at risk of cyber attacks, security breaches, theft and exploitation following the withdrawal of free security patching on April 8th 2014.

“The message that Microsoft is switching off the lights for Windows XP is being received loud and clear by the IT community but it would appear that the business don’t understand the perils of remaining on XP after 8th April, 2014," commented Adrian Foxall, CEO, Camwood.

"In these tough economic times, it is not surprising that business leaders do not want to invest a substantial amount of money in something that essentially isn’t broken, as is the case with Windows XP today.

“But with an estimated 40% of business desktops still running Windows XP and with the clock ticking, IT and the board need to join forces and work together to migrate to a new OS that will support their organisation now and into the future. Failure to do so will put their company in jeopardy.”

Of course, there are some positives to emerge from the study. 42% of IT decision makers have already started migration, and around a third (36%) have completed over 75% of the migration process. Over half said at least 50% of their enterprise had been migrated away from XP suggesting they were on track for complete migration in advance of April 2014.

For many organisations, however, the move off XP has not been as straightforward as they would have hoped. For those who have already begun migration, the biggest barriers were hardware issues (27%), lack of budget (25%), migrating Office data (22%) and Internet Explorer 6 (22%).

“The key piece of advice that I can give to organisations now, regardless of their migration stage,” added Adrian, “is that there’s no need to throw vast amounts of money at solving the problem. Time is extremely limited, and this approach tends to run into problems when you’re at the ‘999’ stage. It’s important at this stage that businesses seek out help from migration experts that can help you plan, manage and migrate quickly and efficiently.”

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