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Seamless swapover from Windows XP to 8.1

Knowing Microsoft was ending support for its XP operating system, Ponsonby Primary in Auckland has made the switch to Windows 8.1 – it proved a “seamless” process and the school’s already loving the results.

On April 8, Microsoft will end support for Windows XP. What that means is that if your school is still running the operating system by this date, you may be exposed to potential risks. You’ll no longer receive updates, to ensure operating efficiency and to help protect your schools’ computers from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Schools still using XP are being encouraged to fully migrate to Windows 8.1 before support ends next month. As an incentive, those that do will go into a draw to win $15,000 worth of Dell computers.

One school whose name will be in the draw is Ponsonby Primary. During the holidays, the Auckland school made the swapover from XP to Microsoft’s newest operating system, Windows 8.1.

“It was a seamless move,” said Principal Anne Malcolm. “There were about 180 computers to change and the whole process took two weeks.”

Products won’t run on XP
The lack of wider interest in the old operating system is another key reason for schools to make the move.

“Many software and hardware vendors will no longer support their products that are running on Windows XP,” said Microsoft’s Education Sector Manager Evan Blackman. “For example, the new Office leverages the modern Windows and will not run on XP. When problems arise, online and phone-based technical support will no longer be available to assist you or your school IT partner.”

However, Microsoft believes the improved performance and functionality that Windows 8/8.1 will bring to schools are reason enough to ditch XP.

“It’s important to us that schools are equipped with the very best tools for the classroom. Windows 8.1 delivers the best computing environment for education, with the personal experiences that students and teachers love, and the management tools that administrators need so that everyone is ready for class.”

And Anne Malcolm and her team agree.

“Staff have taken to the new environment like ducks to water,” she explained. “They all love OneNote and the simplicity of the various applications. Windows 8.1 is so much more intuitive. We can already see a multitude of ways we can set up class and school sharing of learning.

“We have also taken the opportunity to provide all the students with Office 365 at the same time, which links it all together with our BYOD roll out.”

Windows 8.1 deployment kit
To assist schools with the change, Microsoft has prepared the Windows 8.1 Schools Deployment Kit, a ready-made software image of Windows 8.1 and Office 2013, along with step-by-step guidance for deployment.

“To help make schools’ migration onto a modern learning environment easier, we are delighted to announce the arrival of the Windows 8.1 Deployment Kit,” added Blackman.

The kit contains:

  • Windows 8.1 image, including Office 2013 Professional Plus and Internet Explorer 11;
  • Guidance on implementing an automated image deployment process; and
  • ‘How to’ videos.

“The Windows Deployment 8.1 Kit is available for state and integrated schools – they can contact us for more information,” he added. “It has all the documentation necessary to complete a full deployment of the latest Windows and Microsoft Office desktop.

“If schools haven’t received this yet or have any questions about the change to Windows 8.1, they should contact us or their IT partner.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, OR IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS AROUND THE DEPLOYMENT OF MICROSOFT SOFTWARE AT YOUR SCHOOL, EMAIL NZEDUCATION@MICROSOFT.COM OR GO TO MICROSOFT.CO.NZ/XPEDU. ALTERNATIVELY, CONTACT YOUR IT PARTNER.

© INTERFACE Magazine, March 2014

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