By Alex Jones, Zazzle Media

It may be 14 years old now but many people have not moved on from Windows XP, despite the fact it stopped being fully supported by Microsoft more than a year ago. Among the loyal XP fans, according to computing.co.uk, is the Metropolitan Police Service, which is said to still have more than 35,000 machines using the operating system.

To an extent it’s testament to the popularity of XP that people feel loathed to ditch it. It’s reliable and easy-to-use and many businesses fear a long and costly migration process. But, it’s clearly time to stop clinging on. Without the support of patches and fixes XP is vulnerable to the threat of cyber attackers – who can exploit issues with relative ease. Some people – the UK Government included – have paid to extend their support but even those users are seeing that it’s time to stop holding back the tide and move on.

So, what do those people need to know to survive the transition?

Well, first things first, many people have, fairly, decided that Windows 7 is the next system to move to post-XP. Windows 7 may well be nearly six years old itself but it’s more suited to the sort of person who doesn’t want to let go of XP as it’s is more recognisably Windows-like. It’s also cheaper, which is always a bonus.

The first thing you must do is check all of your existing hardware and whether it will be compatible with the new system. You might well have to buy new machines and, while that’s the easiest way to migrate – it’s just a matter of copying and transferring files - it clearly adds cost. Don’t get caught out by this – if new machines are needed find out in advance.

Migrating is the ideal opportunity to address any possible issues over account privileges too, as this guide demonstrates. Essentially this is your opportunity to get your house in order, don’t transfer poor practices over.

Downtime is a big worry for any business but help is at hand to make the migration process much swifter and ensure vital machines are out of action as little as possible. Head to 1e.com to see how they can automate much of the process which – thanks to the latest software – can be done remotely and by ‘waking up’ machines at night when they are needed least.

It may sound like common sense but don’t forget to back everything up to an external storage drive. Keep product keys, files or disks to hand too – don’t scrabble about looking for them when it’s too late.

Get the latest software on your new operating system – updating everything you can as soon as you can, with the latest licences, to ensure your operation runs smoothly.

One reason for sticking with XP might be that you require an application that doesn’t work on newer versions of Windows. Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate – although not Home – includes a virtualisation feature that lets you use such software as though you were still on XP. Make sure you determine whether you need this ahead of the migration and don’t see ‘XP-mode’ as a long-term situation.

Beware that you’ll need extended support to benefit from security fixes for Windows 7 for the next five years.

Leave plenty of time for training while you adjust to the new system. It needn’t be such a hardship – especially if you’ve already called in the experts – but don’t be foolish enough to feel you can rush your migration.