If Your Office is Still Using These Two Things, Stop. Now.


Once upon a time small and medium sized businesses prided themselves on being at the cutting edge of office technology. They were the first to adopt things like electric typewriters, fax machines and yes, even computers.  And then they weren’t.  In fact, an amazingly embarrassing amount of these same sized businesses are still using ancient computers and antique software. I’m not quite sure why, I’m assuming it’s because they’ve formed an unhealthy relationship with them. No matter what the reason, clinging to antiquated hardware and software can cause employee frustration and aggravation when things don’t work the way they used to. In some cases, it can even be downright dangerous.

If your office is still using the following two things, you should stop doing so. Like yesterday.

Windows XP:  Some of you are saying, “No one uses XP anymore, Microsoft stopped supporting it two years ago.”  Wrong.  Experts say that 10.9 percent of users are still using XP. Lots of those are businesses.  Why?  I suppose it’s a combination of reasons. The cost to upgrade computers, the fact that the business relies heavily on software that doesn’t exist for newer systems (ahem, which basically means the software doesn’t exist anymore) and of course the ever popular , “it still works fine”, excuse.

It may work fine, but it’s been two years since Microsoft pulled the plug on XP.  That means no updates and no support. It’s a dead OS.  We all know how important updates are to keeping our systems secure and safe.  You do know that right?  So basically if your office is running Windows XP your software is so outdated now that who knows how many holes and security breaches may be lurking.  Not to mention the fact that lots of software and even browsers are no longer worrying about whether they run on XP machines.  Meaning you won’t be able to update those programs either and…yup, more holes and security issues. Not to mention bugs and glitches that may make things just stop working on XP machines altogether.

If you are the owner of a business running XP, make it your mission to get up to date. Yes, that means new computers and possibly even new software.  You wouldn’t use an old broken lock on the front door of your business, just because it looked like it was working ok would you?  Of course not, it would be like just assuming a thief wasn’t going to walk in and steal everything just because there was something that looked like a working lock on the door.  XP just looks like a working OS. It’s dead, and I guarantee it’s hindering your productivity and ability to do things even though you aren’t aware of it.

If you’re the employee stuck using XP; my condolences. Print out this post and put it on your boss’ desk. Because we both know they aren’t going to read it online right?

Oh, and if you or the boss are thinking about ‘upgrading’ to Windows Vista? Don’t.  Microsoft’s extended support for Vista ends next month. Yeah, regular support ended in 2012.

Bonus Tip: Do yourself a favor and skip the upgrades and buy a new computer(s) because chances are if your system is still running XP (or Vista) it’s going to choke and smoke running newer versions of Windows.  Just go purchase a new system running Windows 10. Or embrace online technology and buy everyone Chromebooks.

Internet Explorer:  The popularity of this internet browser in offices everywhere boggles my mind. The fact that many offices are running versions of the browser that haven’t been supported in years makes it more than mind boggling, it makes it dangerous. There is only one version of Internet Explorer that is still supported.  That version is number 11. If your version has any number before that listed as a version number it is no longer supported.   That means no updates, no support and most importantly, no security holes are being patched. You know, browser security, the stuff that keeps all your passwords and private information from the bad guys.

How do you know which version of Internet Explorer you are using?  This support article tells you.  By the way, even if you have version 11, do you know the last time you updated it?  Your browser (any browser!) should be kept up to date, so if you don’t have automatic updates enabled, make sure you check for updates often.

Bonus Tip:  Internet Explorer is an odd browser that doesn’t render code exactly the same way as most other browsers so websites may not look right or work right. Firefox and Chrome are browser alternatives to Internet Explorer.  Microsoft’s newest browser Microsoft Edge is also an alternative. And of course, my new favorite browser, Opera Neon.

Of course, in order to switch to one of these other browsers, you probably want to make sure you’re not running Windows XP.


Tina Marie Hilton provides online technology services to forward thinking businesses. She writes on her Tips from T.Marie business blog to share insight and information with other small businesses and entrepreneurs. It also makes her feel like that certificate in creative writing isn't going to waste completely.