Death cometh for Windows XP?

March 21, 2014 at 7:58 am | Posted in Microsoft, Technical Tips, Vendor news | Leave a comment
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Microsoft has announced that as of April 8, 2014 there will no longer be any technical assistance for Windows XP. There will be no more automatic updates for Windows XP. You will be able to receive anti-malware signature updates if you have installed Microsoft Security Essentials for a limited time after 4/8/2014.  With no security patches to protect it, is this the death of Windows XP?

DeathComesForWindowsXP

I am not sure how to react to the death of Windows XP. Do I put on a coat and tie, invite some other XP users over, and say some nice words about the operating system? Do I sing “Dust in the Wind” like Will Ferrell did in  the movie “Old School”at the funeral for the beloved character “Blue”?

WillFarrelOldSchool

What I do know is that my Windows XP computer will not drop dead on 4/8/2014, but the risk of a Windows XP computer getting hacked increases significantly.

Who cares, you say? No one runs Windows XP anymore, you say? That is not quite true. As of December 2013, Windows XP computers represented  30%  market share according to netmarketshare.com.  According to the NCR corporation, 95% of the ATMs worldwide run Windows XP.  Not to mention the number of medical devices using Windows XP.  My coworker Ann snapped this photo during an unscheduled visit to the emergency room at a major metropolitan hospital on 3/14/14:

IMG_20140313_171543669_HDR

The end of support for Windows XP will require many companies to make decisions on the future of their products.  Product manufacturers will need to upgrade to stay ahead of any compliance issues caused by a lack of security updates.

Companies have been lukewarm to Windows 8, so I do not expect them to jump on the Windows 8 bandwagon. However, Windows 7 has been  up and running for several years and has a solid install base of about 47%, according to netmarketshare.com.  Granted, hardware will need to be upgraded or replaced to support the upgrade, but there are many other choices besides Windows 7.  Linux and Android have a chance to take advantage of this change.  Could the death of Windows XP mean Microsoft no longer dominates the operating system market?

In the past, companies continued to offer applications to customers who ran on outdated operating systems especially in the medical industry. I expect that companies will still support applications that run on Windows XP long after the end of the support date. People will still use old operating systems and drive old cars.  For example, I drive a car that is more than 41 years old, and I clock more than 8,500 miles a year on that car:

73VwSuperBeetle

My 1973 Volkswagon Beetle is not as safe as a car manufactured after 2010.  I drive it because it’s fun to drive, but I take precautions.  I will not drive the car for more than 100 miles at a time. I always make sure that I have an auto club subscription like AAA.  If you drive an old car, you know you’ll need to upgrade the brakes, upgrade the head lights, and upgrade the safety belts. I replaced the ignition in 2014. Similarly, if you decide to keep Windows XP on your home machine or have your company’s applications continue to run on Windows XP, you will need to keep a few things in mind:

  • Older Internet browsers are lightning rods for security hacks. Upgrade those browsers to the latest version that will run on Windows XP.
  • Keep up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware software.  Microsoft will support anti-malware signatures for some time after the end of support date. Look for third-party companies that may continue to provide anti-virus and anti-malware support for Windows XP.
  • Scale back privileges on the computer.  Restrict administrator privileges anywhere possible to minimize risks.
  • Have a plan to move data to a new operating system.

Microsoft offers a free program to migrate your data from Windows XP to Windows 8.1 called LapLink. The program will transfer your data, but will NOT migrate your applications.  There are several third party applications that will transfer data and applications that you can purchase such as PCmover.

Although we do not like to think about it, death comes for us all.  Like my father, the insurance salesman, would say, “You always need to provide for the inevitability of death”.  If you have Windows XP, death is knocking on the door. Make sure that you insure yourself against the security risks of running Windows XP and have a plan for moving data to a new operating system.

HomerTheEndIsNear

Good Luck!

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