April 8, 2014
Microsoft Officially Ends Support For Windows XP Operating Systems
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
It was a good run, but all good things do indeed come to an end. Today, Microsoft will officially end its support for the Windows XP operating system, which was first introduced in 2001. After today the OS will no longer get security patches or other technical support from Microsoft – at least unless they are part of a very exclusive group of governments or businesses that pay for “custom support.”
This doesn’t mean computers running the OS will suddenly not work, it just means that Microsoft won’t support it going forward. Microsoft released its final official patch for Windows XP on Tuesday.
“End of support means there won’t be, after April 8, security updates or non-security hotfixes or any paid or unpaid support options that are provided by Microsoft,” Marc Aube, Windows consumer marketing lead for Microsoft Canada, told the CBC on Tuesday.
There had been a fear last month that thousands of government computers could become vulnerable to cyber-attacks, but Microsoft announced it would offer “custom support agreements.” Even with this security experts believe there could be risks in using the aging software.
“Hackers know Microsoft will no longer fix security flaws, so evil-doers have extra incentive to look for them,” the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. “In addition, if a flaw is found for Windows 7 or 8, there’s a good chance a similar issue exists for XP as well. So when the fixes come out for Windows 7 or 8, hackers can go back to XP to look for an opening.”
It isn’t just the government that still relies on Windows XP. According to USA Today, “Thousands of bank ATMs run on XP — nearly 75 percent, according to ATM manufacturer NCR.”
Windows XP is still widely used by businesses, which even with the deadline looming for months haven’t made efforts to upgrade to a newer OS.
“There can be no denying the fact that PCs running Windows XP are ‘at large’ in the enterprise, even though their number is declining,” said Richard Edwards, principal analyst for enterprise mobility & productivity software at Ovum. “Speaking to CIOs, there are various reasons why a business or institution might continue to run Windows XP past the April deadline, and not all of these are low risk scenarios.”
Those aforementioned dangers continue to exist and likely could only get worse.
“Supporting operating systems beyond their end-of-life is nothing new for the corporate IT department, and there are plenty of ways-and-means to reduce or mitigate the risks associated with unsupported software,” Edwards added. “In the meantime, Google has said that it will support its Chrome web browser on Windows XP until April 2015, and antivirus vendors – including Microsoft – have said they will continue to update their software running on Windows XP computers until 2015.
“It would appear that some CIOs and IT managers have been busy mitigating the risks of Windows XP in another way: bespoke support from Microsoft,” noted Edwards. “The UK government has reportedly paid £5.5m to Microsoft to ensure support for public-sector bodies for another year, giving organizations like the NHS a little more time to complete their upgrades and migrations.”