After April 8, Microsoft is pulling the plug on technical support for Windows XP, the highly popular operating system that debuted 12 years ago.
While most analysts say little will happen as XP retires — there are no dire end-of- computer- system fears or anticipated desk or laptop explosions — but there could be consequences. The best wisdom seems to be, upgrade if you can.
The biggest deal about the end of the XP era is
that there are no more operating system fixes and no defenses against viruses and other online perils.
There are risks
According to Microsoft, running Windows XP SP3 in your environment after April 8, 2104 may expose you to potential risks, such as:
- Your PC may become vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage your business data and information. Anti-virus software will also not be able to fully protect you once Windows XP itself is unsupported.
- Businesses that are governed by regulatory obligations such as HIPAA may find that they are no longer able to satisfy compliance requirements.
- Many software vendors will no longer support their products running on Windows XP as they are unable to receive Windows XP updates. For example, the new Microsoft Office takes advantage of the modern Windows and will not run on Windows XP.
- Most PC hardware manufacturers will stop supporting Windows XP on existing and new hardware. This will also mean that drivers required to run Windows XP on new hardware may not be available.
Security at stake
“The real concern is security,” said Marwan Halabi, president of CMIT Solutions of South Scottsdale, an IT support company. “It creates a huge target for anyone who has anything on XP. Hackers wait for opportunities like this.”
Halabi said just running one or two computers with Windows XP could make an entire network more vulnerable.
He suggests that companies assess their hardware and work station to see if upgrading to Windows 7/8 is an option.
Many small to medium sized businesses lack the budget, time and resources to migrate to Windows 7/8, according to technosite.com.
Answers about the end of XP
Q. Can Windows XP still be activated after April 8?
A. Windows XP can still be installed and activated after end of support. Computers running Windows XP will still work but they won’t receive any Microsoft updates or be able to leverage technical support. Activations will still be required for retail installations of Windows XP after this date as well.
Q. Can Windows XP Mode in Windows 7 still be used in Windows XP?
A. Windows XP Mode follows the same support lifecycle as Windows XP, extended support will end April 8.
Q. Will Microsoft Security Essentials be supported after April 8, 2014?
A. Microsoft Security Essentials will not be available for download on Windows XP after April 8. If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you will continue to receive anti-malware signature updates through July 14, 2015. However, please note that PCs running Windows XP after April 8, 2014 should not be considered protected.
Q. Will Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool be supported after April 8?
A. Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool is aligned with the company’s anti-malware engines and signatures, and as such the removal tool will continue to be provided for Windows XP through July 14, 2015. However, any PC running Windows XP after April 8, 2014 should not be considered protected as there will be no security updates for the Windows XP operating system.
Q. Will System Center, Windows Intune, and Microsoft Deployment Toolkit still support Windows XP?
A. While customers may continue to use System Center, Windows Intune, and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit to manage and deploy Windows XP past April 8, those products will no longer support Windows XP, and any technical issues which may arise will not be addressed.
Q. Will existing updates still be available via Windows Update after April 8?
A. Yes, all existing Windows XP updates and fixes will still be available via Windows Update and WSUS.
Q. Will Internet Explorer 8 still be supported on Windows XP?
A. As a component of Windows, Internet Explorer follows the support life cycle of the Windows operating system on which it is installed on. More information is available at Microsoft Support.
Q. Which machines will receive the Windows XP End of Support notification?
A. The notification will be sent to users of Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional who have elected to receive updates via Windows Update. Users in organizations using Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), System Center Configuration Manager, or Windows Intune will not receive the Windows XP end of support notification.
Expensive to switch
Switching from XP to Windows 8.1 or another more recent carnation could be expensive for companies, some analysts say.
XP is likely to stay in many an a system, and at first that may be okay, some experts have said. But over time, security concerns can mount, especially in ATMs, 95 percent of which use Windows XP.
The retirement of the system means that XP systems could be hacked or scammed and generally means they are no longer completely safe, even with the use of third-party antivirus software.
If you can’t upgrade to a new operating system, or replace your computer with one that contains pre-installed system, be careful. Be smart about what files you download, keep firewalls up and avoid using accounts with administrator permissions, analysts urge.
USA Today contributed to this report.