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  • WRITTEN BY Jorge Rojas POSTED ON October 29,2012

Who’s stoked about the launch of Windows 8? According to a Reuters report, not the business world. Many businesses perceive that Windows 8 is primarily a consumer product, and lacks any upgrades that will improve operations. It is also the nature of corporations to not adopt a new system until after 12-18 months of testing, so launches are treated as a non-event for many businesses.

Projections from the Gartner research firm show that Windows 8 will not be nearly as popular as its predecessor Windows 7. Feedback from businesses paints a gloomy picture for Microsoft with 90% of large organizations choosing to skip out upgrading to Windows 8. In fact, unless a new feature is added that is a game changer, Gartner predicts the peak of the Windows 8 lifespan will yield a puny 20 percent adoption rate. This means a lot of companies will continue to run Windows 7; but how long can you operate with an older operating system?

Whichever OS you go with, it is essential that you stay current with the updates provided by the manufacturer. This is especially the case for the launch of new products as bugs are discovered and worked out. It is best practice to make system updates a part of your maintenance routine, or set your computer to automatically install the updates. Software companies like Microsoft work hard to curtail new security threats, and if you do not stay current with their updates, then your system could fall victim to a virus that could have been easily avoided.

From a practical standpoint, as long as you hear the Windows start up music when you turn on your computer, you can run Windows. But from a security perspective, if the software manufacturing company stops supporting updates, then you should stop using the product. To illustrate, computer software is like packaged meat at the grocery store, they both have a shelf life and an expiration date. The shelf life for Windows lasts as long as Microsoft provides mainstream support, and the expiration date for software is when extended support ends.

January 12, 2015 is when you will find Windows 7 floating on top of the bargain bin because that is when mainstream support comes to an end. As long as a product is covered under mainstream support, Microsoft will provide both security and non-security updates; this covers adding new features and designs, and honoring your warranty.

Like discounted meat at the grocery store, when the shelf life for Windows 7 ends (loses mainstream support) it is still good to use because Microsoft will continue to send you free security upgrades. If you are committed to Windows 7 and would like to continue to receive non-security-related hotfixes, then you can pay for them with a subscription service. The subscription for Windows 7 support service has its own cutoff date for signing up, April 15, 2015. The expiration date when Windows 7 “goes bad” is January 14, 2020, this is when Microsoft stops covering extended support altogether.

And if we are comparing operating systems to meat, then Windows XP is beef jerky because it is tough, filling, and appears to last a long time. Despite being a decade old, Windows XP is currently running on 41 percent of the world’s 1.5 billion PCs; but even beef jerky has an expiration date (coincidentally, jerky takes about a decade to expire), Windows XP is set to lose extended support on April 8, 2014. Unfortunately, the popularity of Windows XP is also its Achilles heel because hackers like to target the most popular system. Therefore, if you have an opportunity to upgrade from XP, then we would recommend it. If you happen know anybody using Microsoft Vista, then kindly let them know that extended support will end on April 11, 2017.

Microsoft appears to be developing an operating system pattern with many consumers choosing to upgrade with every other OS. If this pattern holds, then Windows 8 may lose out in the Microsoft shuffle. What do you think? Are you planning on upgrading to Windows 8, or are you going to hold out with Windows 7? What about Vista or even XP? Defend your favorite OS in the comments!

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