Tux, as originally drawn by Larry Ewing 
Tux – your faithful free-software friend

It might seem a long way off, but Saturday 5 April 2014 represents your best, last opportunity to ditch that ageing Windows XP and upgrade to a modern, capable, free and secure operating system: GNU/Linux.

Microsoft are dropping support of Windows XP on Tuesday 8 April 2014.  After then, the numerous security issues that XP will face will go un-patched.  Anti-virus vendors, firewall software writers… basically everyone in the proprietary software world will no longer support Windows XP.

In the meantime, Microsoft is doing its best to urge businesses to migrate to a newer version of Windows(1).  Note that the term used is “migrate”, not “upgrade”.

It is claimed(2) that Windows 7 has overtaken XP as the most widely used Microsoft desktop operating system.  Whether this is credible or not, Microsoft is not one to pass up an opportunity to tell companies on XP not to wait for Windows 8(3).

This is perhaps the best advice they have given:  there are so many freely available secure operating systems available right now, which will run eficiently on current PC hardware, that there really is little point waiting for anything.  There is, of course, an enormouse number of free applications to run on them too, of which here is a highlight.

Of course, you would wait until Saturday 5 April 2014 to update your computer software but, actually, why wait at all?  You can install Linux alongside Windows to dip your toes in before committing fully.  All you need to do is visit one of these and follow the installation documentation:

Don’t worry – Microsoft is far more afraid of you getting your feet wet than you are.   If you have any questions, there are loads of resources available to help.  Try a Linux User Group (usalug.com / lug.org.uk), or maybe start on a forum (www.linuxforums.org, www.linuxquestions.org, www.linux.com/community/forums). Of course, as a business user you may want to opt for enterprise support.  You can find that here: Red Hat Enterprise Linux – and here: Ubuntu for Business.

Choosing to upgrade from a proprietary operating system to a free operating system can seem hazardous, but rest assured – you are not the first to try!  Millions have gone before you, and millions will come after.  With open source software, there is strength in numbers and these numbers increase daily.

Come and join in – and try not to have a lot of fun! 😉

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