Mark your calendar. Put a tickler on your docketing system. The end of Windows XP is coming and it is closer than you think. Microsoft will end support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. Is your firm ready?
April 8, 2014
This is big news for law firms large and small. Windows XP has been the operating system of choice for law firms for the past decade. On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will stop sending out those annoying security updates for Windows XP that you are so used to seeing on a weekly basis. The problem is these updates have been protecting you for the past 10 years from hackers and cyber criminals. That protection is ending and your firm needs to do something about it, fast.
What does this mean for me and my firm?
If your firm is using Windows XP computers, they need to upgrade to another operating system before the April 8th deadline. On April 9, any security issues or bugs that are found with Windows XP will not be fixed by Microsoft. With 500 million users of Windows XP out there, many of them in law firms, this is a serious security threat.
Do I really need to upgrade?
Yes. Cyber criminals are waiting to exploit this old operating system. With such a big target market, the opportunity to snoop and steal data from Windows XP computers will be too enticing to miss. If any security holes or bugs are found, they will not be fixed and cyber criminals will use them to their advantage.
What can my firm do?
Law firms need to upgrade their computers from Windows XP now. They have a choice of two Windows operating systems, Windows 7 and Windows 8. Click on the link for the Windows Upgrade Advisor to help you determine if your XP computer can run Windows 7 or Windows 8. Most likely, older hardware will not be compatible with Windows 7 or Windows 8 computers. This means your firm needs to purchase new hardware.
Which operating system should I buy?
Firms can choose from two different Windows operating systems, Windows 7 and Windows 8:
- Windows 7 (Professional preferably) is available through online vendors like Dell and Lenovo. Only online retailers give you the option to choose to have Windows 7 installed on your new computer.
- Windows 8 (Professional preferably) is available through most physical or online retailers. This is the default operating system for any new computer today.
Given the choice, I would recommend that you upgrade to Windows 7 Professional and not move to Windows 8. Windows 8 has proven to be a difficult transition for many law firms, with a steep learning curve. Windows 7 will be supported until at least January 2020, which will give you plenty of time to learn Windows 8.
What should I buy?
Firms have different budgets that will determine what computers they can afford to buy. Some general specifications for new computers are below:
- Laptops – Intel i5 or i7 processor, 14 inch screen, 64-bit operating system, at least 8 GB of memory (RAM), (at least) 500 GB hard drive or (minimum) 256GB solid state drive (SSD) and DVD-RW. Good options for business laptops are below:
- Lenovo laptops – Thinkpad T series
- Dell laptops – Latitude 3000 series
- Desktops – Intel i5 or i7 processor, at least 8 GB of memory (RAM), 64-bit operating system, (at least) 500 GB hard drive or 256GB solid state drive (SSD) and DVD-RW. Good options for business desktops are below:
- Lenovo desktop – ThinkCentre M series
- Dell desktops – OptiPlex 3000 series
Can I buy a Mac?
Of course! Mac use within law offices has been increasing dramatically, especially for solo and small firms. Expect to pay more when upgrading to a Mac operating system but remember a Mac is not like an iPad. It is a completely different operating system and does not work like your iPad. It works like a Mac. For those tech savvy attorneys and staff it will be a great transition and you might find that “Once you go Mac, You’ll never go back.” Some general specifications for new Macs are below:
- Macbook Pro or Macbook Air – Intel i5 or i7 processor, 13 inch screen, at least 8 GB of memory (RAM), (at least) 256 GB storage.
- iMac – 21.5” or 27” screen, 8 GB of memory (RAM), 1TB storage.
When I should switch?
The time is now. Switching computers is never easy, but for Windows, Microsoft has made it easier to upgrade using software like Windows Easy Transfer to transfer data from one computer to another. Plus, when you buy new computers this year, your firm can use it as a tax deduction.
Remember the date – April 8, 2014. Bite the bullet, open your checkbook and max out your credit cards. Replace your Windows XP computers today and know that you will be ready for business on April 9, 2014.