With Windows 8 coming onto the market, a lot of companies are still planning the move away from XP, which is already outdated and lacks support. The need to change is clear, but should you convert to Windows 7, or go straight to the newer Windows 8?Right now we’ve got a market that’s split 50/50 between Windows 7 and XP, but Windows 8 offers some essential benefits for businesses.Stability. Is Windows 8 the most stable desktop operating system yet? Our results certainly indicate this to be the case, especially in light of the new print driver model and several self-healing features that are included with Windows 8. This means lower support costs resulting in a lower TCO for Windows 8 when compared to older Microsoft platforms.Windows 7 supportIn the coming months and years, support for Windows 7 support will begin to decline as Microsoft and developers alike focus on the new OS. Adopting Windows 8 is an investment that will stand the test of time and it makes good business sense to skip the outdated Windows 7 if possible.CompatibilityIt pays to do your homework, and Microsoft have provided tools to make this a simple process. Use the Windows upgrade assistant to verify compatibility of your existing hardware and software, but remember that nothing beats a real live test, so install an evaluation copy of Windows 8 and see how it fits into your environment before making any decisions. Also ensure you test Internet Explorer 10 extensively as it will not play nice with a lot of intranet sites designed for Internet Explorer 8.Upgrade costs and licensingBe careful when checking the upgrade costs involved in a Windows 7 or Windows 8 upgrade as these will vary from one organization to another. Windows 8 upgrade licenses are a very economical way to move away from Windows XP but you may not qualify for this pricing model if you already use a volume license for Windows XP. The SOE development and deployment costs will be similar for either Windows 7 or 8, and both can be rolled out using the free tools available in the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012.Dougan McMurray is IT Manager at Brennan IT.