What’s Your Windows XP End of Life Migration Plan?
As you may have heard, Microsoft (MSFT) will end Windows XP support updates on April 8, 2014. However, many VARs and their customers have yet to discuss the deadline's implications. Here's how to broach the subject in a way that benefits your customers — and potentially your bottom line.
When Microsoft ends Windows XP support, the operating system will no longer receive service packs, security updates and patches that protect the aging operating system from Internet threats and unscrupulous users. You could pressure customers with Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) statements. Instead, I recommend a practical approach: Offer your customers a free network assessment in Q4 2013.
Free Insights, Future Revenues
As part of that customer network assessment:
- Take inventory of a customers' endpoints;
- Determine which operating systems each endpoint runs; and
- Identify existing BYOD (bring your own device) solutions that employees use for work.
Once you've completed a customer network assessment, have a meeting with the customer to review and develop BYOD policies and a holistic approach to refresh network endpoints in stages starting with the Windows XP installed base in Q1 2014.
Generally speaking, you should be refreshing at least one-third of your customers' endpoints each year. That approach ensures:
- Nobody on the network has a device that's more than three years old.
- Systems are easier to maintain each time the government or a regulatory organization issues a new compliance or security mandate.
- A solid end-user experience while giving you more predictable annual revenue.
Move Fast or Face the Risks
Still, if the majority of your customers' systems run Windows XP, you may need to fast-track the refresh cycle ahead of the April 8, 2014 support deadline. If your customers' balk at potential Windows XP system upgrades, point out the compliance and business risks they face with the antiquated operating system. Lenovo has a white paper to help guide the conversation. In short:
- Windows XP will be open to new security exploits;
- the United States, United Kingdom and other countries have various data privacy and data protection laws that require best efforts to keep operating systems up to date; and
- the costs associated with managing Windows XP are generally higher than managing modern operating systems like Windows 8 and Windows 7.
Lenovo and Channel Partners
Once customers see the light, Lenovo is the natural Windows 8 and Windows 7 systems partner for VARs. The company's protect and attack strategy is a pure channel strategy — protecting and empowering VARs that have already made investments in ThinkPad sales, and working with partners to attack additional markets like servers and storage.
Lenovo also continues to innovate on multiple fronts. Among the latest examples: Lenovo has a complete family of laptops and desktops that leverage fourth generation Intel processors — previously code-named Haswell. Among the key benefits for VARs and their customers:
- Better performance: The Intel Haswell processor makes everyday applications run up to 4x faster. All without sacrificing battery life.
- Less drain: Intel Haswell processors make better use of available energy, especially on mobile devices. This equates to less time charging, and more time doing. In many cases, customers will experience all-day battery life.
- Visually stunning: For specialized users — such as CAD/CAM specialists, architects, gaming developers and more — Haswell works with integrated and discrete graphics cards to deliver up to 2.4x better performance and visuals on graphics-intensive applications.
Change the Conversation
Of course, you can always go in and "pitch" new PC, notebook and endpoint sales to your customers. But the network assessment approach allows you to be a trusted advisor. Take the time to truly discover how your customers conduct business. Understand the devices and applications in use. Then share a system refresh plan that boosts employee productivity and generates revenue for your business.
Windows XP's end of life — which is approaching fast — gives you the perfect excuse to get started.
Kevin Walker is North America Channel Marketing Manager at Lenovo. Guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy's annual platinum sponsorship.