Microsoft New Zealand Windows client business group manager Dean Edwards would like customers using Windows XP to get a move on upgrading their operating systems.
He warns that support for the 12-year old operating system ends next April. From then customers will no longer get upgrades or security fixes. Normal technical support will also cease on that day, although there are expensive alternative options.
Edwards says companies and users who don’t upgrade will place their systems at risk. This isn’t just because the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system, Windows 8.1 is 21 times more secure than XP. It’s also because online crooks will view companies that don’t upgrade their software as an easy target.
There’s evidence they already target XP users. Edwards says there have been 45 Microsoft security bulletins on XP in the past year. He says it gets worse: “As Microsoft rolls out new security patches for Windows 7 and 8, the vulnerabilities can be reverse engineered to expose the risks in XP”.
He says that while XP won’t stop running, there are other risks. “It’s like running an old car. Sooner or later you can no longer get the parts.” Edwards says a lot of modern applications won’t run on XP and today’s peripheral devices like scanners and printers don’t support the OS.
There are some 377,000 holdouts in New Zealand. Some of them are in larger organisations that face the complex task of testing all their applications and systems with the new OS. Smaller businesses have less work to do, but Edwards says many are prone to leave the upgrade too late. He says they should, at a minimum, be thinking about it and making plans.
One problem companies face is favourite or custom-made applications were written for XP. Edwards says there are ways to run these apps in XP mode on newer versions of Windows. Failing that, it’s always possible to run a virtual instance of XP. He says: “Technologies like App-V mean you can run an old app in a bubble, it won’t interact with anything else or cause problems”.