As of April 8 2014, Microsoft will no longer support Windows XP. If your small business is still using the operating system, this means no more security updates, fixes, or new patches beyond that date.

This news shouldn't be a surprise. It was 2012 when Microsoft announced it would drop support, leaving companies two years to prepare. Yet many businesses are still to upgrade.

What is the small business impact?

Keeping XP after April 2014 will be expensive. After the deadline has passed, the exact cost of continued support for XP is decided on a per company basis, but this could amount to over £100 per PC each month.

On top of the costs, a lack of new patches means businesses are at increased risk of security breaches after April. Therefore companies who are running XP should make sure machines are fully patched until then as well as looking at additional security products from other vendors.

If your small business hasn’t upgraded should you consider it?

The clock is certainly ticking for XP users, but there is no need to panic. If you think you will miss the April deadline, migration will need to happen within the next year.

According to Microsoft, upgrading from XP can take up to 30 months. However, companies such as Dell are offering packages to help with migration that can make the process quicker, easier and cheaper for SMBs.

Coming up.....

So what can readers look forward to seeing on the PC Advisor (zone name) microsite, brought to you in association with Dell, over the next few weeks? We will be looking at how you can keep Windows XP secure: many vendors aren't pulling business support straight away. We will also be asking how long XP will be safe.

Just an importantly, our in-depth articles will explaining how upgrading to Windows 8.1 brings a wealth of opportunities to your business by highlighting features that are specifically designed to help improve your workflows. We’ll be looking at, among other things, how new Windows 8.1-based hardware can improve the way employees work on the move, bringing more flexibility in portability and form factor.