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Windows XP End of Life

There have been various posts this week raising visibility of the fact that 12 months from now, Microsoft will no longer support Windows XP. This means no patches if something stops working, no security patches for any new vulnerabilities which are found and no support from Microsoft unless you pay them handsomely for the privilege.

Let's state the facts to start with.

Windows XP was released in 2001 as an evolution of Windows 2000 (which was only released itself in 1999.) Windows 2000 wasn't a bad version, but Windows XP brought some improvements to the User Interface (although not everyone agreed with this at the time, myself included)

The Fact that Windows XP is still in use in the mainstream 12 years later is a measure of both it's longevity and the fact that none of the succeeding versions (Least of all Windows Vista, with Windows 8 not far behind) have given users a good enough reason to pay money to upgrade. Windows XP IS a good operating system and it won't cease to be a good operating system the day after support finishes.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that around 28-30% of Windows computers are still on XP, this will be a mix of Business and Home PCs

What worries me is that reports suggest that a lot of companies are going to continue to use Windows XP on the desktop as outlined in reports like the one here, this leads to several problems:

Operating System Security. Microsoft will not be releasing any more patches for Windows XP unless you pay them to do it. As and when further vulnerabilities are found in Windows XP, those security holes will not be fixed. To put this into context, there have been thousands of patches released for XP over the last 12 years. If you installed a Pre Service Pack version of Windows XP, Windows Update would install Services Pack 3, reboot and then go through several more reboots as it downloaded and installed many more patches.

Other vendors reducing support for Windows XP: the biggest example of this is that if for example, Sun with Java, or Adobe with Reader and Flash decide not to release patches or new versions for XP (Which becomes more likely after Microsoft finish support) this leaves Windows XP open to more vulnerabilities through no fault of the user or Microsoft. Other vendors such as Sage and Oracle will also See Microsoft's action as a reason to no longer support XP for their product.

Drivers stop being updated: 3rd party hardware providers will stop supporting Wndows XP

A part of Windows XP breaks (Not likely after 12 years) Microsoft will not fix it unless you pay them.

I realise that some companies will feel that they cannot move off Windows XP due to Legacy Applications, or that others will have done a risk assessment before taking this decision.

The fact remains that Windows XP becomes a ticking time bomb as to when, rather than IF it becomes a security issue.

This should be a major concern to all IT Managers.


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