Now that we are confronted with Windows XP’s end of support (April 8th, 2014), more and more organizations are beginning to realize the urgency in needing to move off of Windows XP. At the end of 2013, about 36 percent of respondents to a Spiceworks survey said they planned to have at least one XP instance in production after XP’s end-of-support date.

Many of these entities are now realizing the risks involved with keeping XP instances in production, and many of those who did not realize the urgency in needing to remove those instances from production now do. The majority of XP migrations will be to Windows 7, which is a perfectly safe and productive OS. What I would like to explain here are some of the additional benefits that can be realized by moving to Windows 8, rather than Windows 7.

Best Business PCs

Windows 8 certified hardware is the best option when replacing old XP hardware. Windows 8 devices blur the lines of consumer and corporate use cases, allowing a best-in-class experience for both. These devices are touch optimized, but also maintain full support for traditional keyboard and mouse setups. The applications being used will drive the user toward either a touch experience or a mouse/keyboard experience, and the user has the flexibility to seamlessly move between the two.

Apps

By moving to Windows 8, users will have access to new touch-optimized Windows 8 apps published in the Windows Store, while also maintaining full support for their legacy applications that run on Windows 7. Windows 8 apps are full-screen, touch-optimized applications. They provide users with immediate and secure access to the information they need to do their jobs at a glance. As a result, users love the experiences they have working with these apps. Windows 8 provides an exciting opportunity for developers and independent software vendors (ISVs) to create new Windows 8 apps that fit the more modern work styles of their users.

Security

At this point, most people are familiar with the new Windows 8, and the changes made to help enable a touch-friendly experience. What people may not realize are all of the back-end security and management enhancements made alongside these interface changes, and how important they are to the full value of Windows 8.

Since the release of Windows XP, the threat landscape has changed remarkably. We no longer can rely on simple security software as our sole means of protection. Windows 8.1 Biometrics enhancements enable secure access to devices. Device Encryption and BitLocker technologies encrypt and protect data even if devices are lost or stolen. Remote Business Data Removal allows users to flag attachments, and securely encrypt, delete or reclaim data that has been distributed through emails and other means. The security enhancements in Windows 8.1 protect users within the new threat landscape, and are together reason enough to consider an upgrade from Windows 7.

Management/Mobility

Windows 8.1 fits into existing management technologies we use today within our environments. Windows 8.1 Pro/Enterprise allows full granular management through asset management tools like System Center Configuration Manager. Windows Phone and RT devices allow mobile device management (MDM) through the Open Mobile Alliance-Device Management (OMA-DM) standard. Therefore, we can manage these devices through Windows Intune, AirWatch, MobileIron and other MDM technologies based on this standard.

Windows 8.1 devices are designed with mobility top of mind, so great Wi-Fi features like Miracast projection technology is built in to allow wireless projection to Miracast-enabled projectors out of the box. Near Field Communication (NFC) and great mobile broadband options also make Windows 8.1 the best OS for the mobility needs of today.

Bottom line, Windows XP holdouts knew a good thing when they saw it. (Windows XP offered a lot to like.) But it’s time to move on. And the added features and functionality of Windows 8.1 make it a worthy upgrade.

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