WindowsXPNews outlets and tech support companies have warned users of the Windows XP support end date for over a year now and the final countdown has begun.  In a little more than a week, Microsoft will officially end technical support for its Windows XP operating system.

Microsoft has provided support for Windows XP for the past 12 years, a very long time in software terms.  More specifically, Microsoft has provided security patches, released every month, for those 12 years.  If you’ve ever watched Windows Update as it preforms an upgrade, that’s what going on in the background: it’s downloading a security update and the April 8th patch will be the last.

Despite the impending end of support date, Window XP continues to maintain almost 30% of the overall Windows user base.  There’s nothing to be ashamed of if your company still uses Windows XP but it is worrisome.  Without regular security patches, Windows XP will be a prime target for viruses and malware, much of which hasn’t even been created yet.  There is a strong possibility that hackers have already discovered vulnerabilities in XP, but have chosen not to exploit them because they know at that after April 8th, they will go unchecked.  Even if vulnerabilities are identified in the future, Microsoft will not release security updates to fix them.

While some owners may be willing to gamble with the security of their business, there is one final complication that will arise from the end of Windows XP.  After support ends, other software and application providers will begin to drop support for the outdated operating system.  This means that many of the critical applications that your business relies on, may soon require an operating system upgrade to function.

As the April 8th deadline draws close it’s time to consider your options.  Most computers manufactured when Windows XP was still the dominant operating system, will not be capable of running the newest versions of Windows.  Private users without extensive stored data or specific software requirements should be able to purchase an appropriate new computer from any major retailer.  However, if you run a business with numerous users, you will likely encounter a migration headache if you try to go it alone.  It is essential that you work with your IT provider to ensure that your data and business critical applications are backed up and ready to transition to the new operating system environment.  What’s more, your IT provider will help you choose the appropriate version of Windows for your individual needs.

It’s finally time to close the book on Windows XP.  While news of system exploits and business related disasters are likely to linger long into the year, it is time to move onto a more safe and sustainable operating system.  If you have not already begun preparations to upgrade, it is unlikely that you will make the April deadline, which makes it’s even more important that you act fast.

If you are a business owner with more questions about upgrading from Windows XP, contact us today.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Webmaster and Lead Designer