As Support Deadline Looms, Many Still Use Windows XP

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

The software company AppSense has just released some interesting numbers. They say that 77 percent of British companies still use Windows XP, the 12-year-old operating system from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). This is a big problem, because Microsoft is officially ending support for Windows XP next week, on April 8.

That means that everyone still using Windows XP after the deadline will be left out in the cold when it comes to technical support from Microsoft, as well as security updates that prevent viruses, spyware, and other malicious attacks. Additionally, according to Microsoft, “Businesses that are governed by regulatory obligations such as HIPAA may find that they are no longer able to satisfy compliance requirements.” All of these could present big problems for any businesses that are still using the operating system after the deadline.

Worse, according to AppSense’s chief technologist Simon Townsend, “It might be the case that an XP machine is running a print server, or some other application which is not entirely obvious. The reality is though, that one machine could potentially put an entire network at risk and without adequate protection it could be a step into the unknown for UK businesses.” This could lead to major costs for some businesses, especially if the computers they use aren’t powerful enough to run newer versions of Windows.

Digital Spy says that companies will be able to pay for continued support for their computers running Windows XP after the deadline. However, AppSpense’s data suggests that less than a third of the British companies they surveyed had plans to do so.

One sector that will be hit hardest by the support cutoff is the banking industry. Businessweek reports that more than 95 percent of automatic teller machines around the world run on Windows XP. Some advanced ATMs will be able to receive new operating systems through a bulk update delivered through the network. However, many stand-alone ATMs, like the ones found in many convenience stores, will need to be updated individually. According to the site, “The cost to upgrade a single ATM to Windows 7 can range from a few hundred dollars if its hardware is adequate, says Stewart, to thousands of dollars if new components are required.”

Businesses aren’t the only ones affected by the April 8 deadline, either. According to CBR Online, a full 27 percent of all web traffic last month came from machines running Windows XP. So if your non-techie friends or family are still running the soon-to-be-outdated software, now would be a good time to stage an intervention.

Obviously, Microsoft would love it if everyone upgraded their machines to newer software, so it’s offering some help. It says you can upgrade to Windows 7, which will continue to be supported for the foreseeable future, or to the latest operating system, Windows 8.1. They’ve outlined the steps to take to make the switch here. The steps and resources available are different depending on if you’re an Enterprise customer, a smaller business, or a home PC user.

The question is, will all businesses pony up the cash for the upgrade, or will they let their networks become increasingly at risk to hackers as time goes on after the deadline? Another concern for Microsoft is that businesses and home users may consider switching to competing software or hardware.

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