With Windows XP coming to its End of Life (EoL) on April 8, it's likely many enterprises won't upgrade in time.

Yet after this date, your systems will be at risk: Microsoft will not be releasing any more patches, leaving you open to compromise.

At this stage, the advice to enterprises who haven't upgraded is to prioritise the order in which machines migrate to Windows 8.

So what's the best way to choose?

Identifying XP

Before you start, it's a good idea to get some visibility into your network and identify which machines are on XP. For example, servers could be running the outdated operating system (OS) and if they are, they will need to be upgraded urgently.

Windows XP can also turn up on Point of Sale (PoS) terminals, and this can be an easy route for attackers to access your network.

Upgrading machines

According to Microsoft, the core requirements for Windows 8 are a 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and a 20GB hard disk. If your older machines don't meet the criteria, you might want to consider a hardware refresh, using vendors such as Dell, which will quickly benefit your business.

If your hardware is Windows 8 ready, the operating system can be downloaded onto machines.

Whichever option you choose, it's best to prioritise the hardware running your core applications. The process of upgrading your applications can be quick, easy and painless if you use Dell Migration Services, which promise to halve the time taken to upgrade.

Isolating XP

If there are any machines that still need to run XP for the time being - for example if they are running legacy business applications that can't be moved yet - experts recommend that you isolate them from the network. This means disconnecting from the internet and removing any data that could put your business at risk.

However, after April 8, no computer will be totally safe. Prioritising your machines will help, but enterprises should aim to upgrade all hardware to Windows 8 as soon as possible.