To be fair, Microsoft didn’t make a secret of the fact that it was ending support for Windows XP earlier this year. But the message that there will be no new security patches or assistance doesn’t seem to have got through to South Africans – at least not to whose responsible for IT at small businesses (those with around 50 employees or less). According to a piece of independent research commissioned by the operating system giant, a full third had no idea that their computers were about to become officially obsolete.

The study focused mainly on Microsoft products, and as the April deadline passed for Windows XP support, 33% indicated that they had no knowledge of the end-of-support. Of the respondents that knew about the stoppage of support, over 55% said that they had no plans to upgrade their company’s operating system. Only 38% intended to upgrade.

The main finding from the report is that companies who adopt new tech and stay on top of it tend to do better than those that don’t. Which is obviously the result Microsoft was hoping for. South African firms classified as ‘high tech’ in their back office showed four points higher percentage job growth, and 15 points better revenue.

However, 26% of the tech leaders are still running Windows Vista, while 77% make use of Windows 7. 53% have also got Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 machines in their arsenal.

In terms of specific programs being used by small businesses, Dropbox was the preferred cloud solution service, with direct email and Windows Azure making up the Top 3. For internet browsers, 81% of the SMEs still use Internet Explorer, 79% make use of Google’s Chrome browser, while 74% of tech leaders make use of Mozilla’s Firefox.

“SMEs are a critical growth engine for jobs and economies today, and we wanted to better understand the impact of technology on these small businesses. Since the economic crisis, many economies have struggled to return to strong economic growth and to create new jobs, and this research suggests strongly that greater use of advanced IT by SMEs can potentially boost both growth and create employment,” said Tracey Newman, Small and Mid-Size Business Director at Microsoft South Africa.

[Source – Microsoft]
Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.