Now that we are closing in on November, users of Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system now have six months left to act before Microsoft closes off all support, including Windows updates, to the now 13-year-old operating system on April 8, 2014. What does this exactly mean for consumer and enterprise-level users still using XP?
Increased risk of personal information
Microsoft’s “end of life” deadline for Windows XP basically means your computer will still be able to run XP past the April deadline, however, users will no longer receive any updates on any new features, patches, bug fixes, security features/virus protection, or technical support from Microsoft.
As a result, updates to viruses, malware and other malicious attacks will pose a significant threat to XP users, since the operating system’s security features will no longer be supported or updated. While users can still download and run a number of third party anti-virus software, this strategy itself is limited if software developers stop updating their products for XP as well (see next topic below).
Lack of support from many third party software developers
The news of Microsoft ending their support on Windows XP will certainly not stop software developers from continuing their own support or development of their products for XP. In fact, companies such as McAfee, Norton or Adobe, who develop software for consumer and enterprise-level computer infrastructures, could likely develop updates that contain features that simply won’t work on XP.
While this may seem like poor customer service, XP users need to understand the business logic behind this topic: if Microsoft is ceasing support for the operating system, why should developers continue supporting it? Continuing support for multiple versions of an operating system will certainly costs developers time and money. The added expenses of continuing support on an outdated system may certainly be a factor reflected on the overall pricing of the product.
Windows Enterprise customers
Not only do consumer-level Windows XP users need a plan for safely running their computer(s), but businesses, schools and other organizations that primarily run Windows XP on their enterprise-level systems need to plan for a solution as well.
For enterprise customers, things can get even more complicated. Many organizations may currently be running applications that is only compatible for Windows XP. Others may be using hardware that would need to be replaced in order to run a newer version of Windows.
Whatever the case, users cannot blame Microsoft for this move; the PC giant announced to the public back in July of 2011 that Windows XP service and support would be shut down in April of 2014. Now with six months left till the deadline, users must make a decision sooner than later.
What you can do
Consumer Windows XP users can either upgrade their machine’s operating system to a newer version of Windows, or purchase a whole new computer that comes with an updated operating system already preinstalled. If replacing a computer is not an option, XP users must decide on what operating system they plan on using on their current machine.
Since XP’s release in 2001, Microsoft has released Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. According to Netmarketshare.com, Windows XP currently still holds over 30% market share of currently running desktop operating systems (Windows 7 holds 46% while Apple’s OS 10.8 Mountain Lion holds 3.7%). Based on that data, many computer analysts believe current XP users will be migrating directly to Windows 7, directly passing Vista (Vista’s “end of line” date is currently scheduled for April of 2017).
When upgrading to a new operating system, users must first find out what hardware (and software) they have, or plan on using, and if everything is in fact compatible with the new OS.
Cloud computing services
Enterprise-level users need to not only review what applications they are currently running on their current hardware, but also consider the upfront costs involved in the whole migration process. Updating the operating system may involve temporarily shutting down certain services, or require specific training or certification for licensing purposes.
Having a certified IT professional can help narrow down the options in the migration process; or better yet, test drive Next Horizon’s cloud computing services and not have to worry about migrating your infrastructure. With cloud computing, all of the necessary infrastructure–including servers, applications and operating systems–is maintained and monitored by a third-party IT company like Next Horizon, and is available to you via an internet connection. Contact us today and see what we can do for your consumer or enterprise-level computing needs before time runs out.