Windows XP users could be putting themselves in harm’s way if they don’t upgrade their operating system before 8 April 2014. That’s when Microsoft ends support for what will then be a 13-year-old operating system.
After April, customers will no longer receive security updates, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates.
Users who run Windows XP with service pack 3 and Office 2003 after April next year will face potential security and compliance risks, which means an organisation could fail external audits, according to Microsoft.
Additionally, fewer and fewer independent software and hardware manufacturers offer support for Windows XP.
Colin Erasmus, who heads up the Windows business at Microsoft South Africa, says that when support for Windows XP ends next year, it will be like driving a car that you can no longer get parts for.
“It’s estimated that [in South Africa]30% of our small to mid-sized customers are still using Windows XP, so the end of the product’s lifecycle has created quite a countdown for many businesses who have to make big decisions about how to update their IT infrastructure,” says Erasmus.
Microsoft is advising XP users to upgrade to the current versions of Windows and Office, and at the same time to take advantage of the latest technology trends such as virtualisation and cloud computing.
“The last thing businesses and employees want is to be vulnerable to security risks and be denied access to hardware innovation.”
In September 2013, Windows XP was still the second most popular PC operating system worldwide, according to data from US Web analytics firms Net Applications. Its findings show that 31,4% of computer users worldwide still run Windows XP, behind the 46,4% who run Windows 7. Microsoft’s most recent desktop operating system, Windows 8, is lagging behind at just 8,9%.
Users appear to be migrating away from Windows XP rather slowly. XP’s market share fell marginally to 31,2% in October.
Although Microsoft South Africa claims it has no reliable or accurate data on the South African market, a quick search on StatCounter.com, an analytics firm, suggests that in September this year 14,2% of South African users were still running Windows XP, well below the 57,7% on the more modern Windows 7. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media