If you’re running Windows XP, you’ll be familiar with that annoying update that happens when you try and shut down for the day. It takes ages, it means you can’t simply switch off and run out the door, and there’s a good chance you’ll miss your train because of that wretched ‘Updating 1 of 7’ message.
But what if there were no more updates?
What if XP was abandoned by Microsoft? What if it was left to fend for itself in a cold, hostile, update-free world? Well, that’s exactly what’s happening on April 8th 2014.
You’ll miss it when it’s gone…
XP has been one of Microsoft’s most successful operating systems to date. It was relatively bug-free (compared to the truly awful Vista), it’s stable, and the monthly patches from Microsoft made it one of the most robust and safest operating systems known to technosapiens. A lot of people are very, very fond of XP, especially in the home PC sector and SMEs. In fact, SMEs are more likely to be running on XP than almost any other OS. So we’ve become used to those monthly patch updates, even if they do make us late for the train.
But there’s just one more patch to come. After that? Well, you’re on your own.
The Zombie ‘bot Apocalypse is nigh…
Taking away Microsoft’s support for XP is no laughing matter. It’s not just home PC users that could find themselves vulnerable once the support for XP vanishes, either. Businesses, from SMEs right through to multi-nationals, are still using 2001’s finest – which means in just a few day’s time they’re potentially running some huge risks. After the final patch, there’ll be no more updates to protect your system against botnet attacks, DDOS (distributed denial of service) or other Internet nasties.
Hacker groups like LulzSec and Anonymous rely on an open back door that an out-of-date operating system provides them with, and can quickly render your entire system inert by creeping in and uploading a Trojan so ferocious that it would make the Spartans run away and cry. Remember, these are the people who shut down Sony and gave the NSA a run for their money, so it’s a threat that’s worth taking very seriously indeed.
This is just a ploy from Microsoft to get me to upgrade!
The cynical among you may well say exactly that, especially as the only sure-fire way to stay fully protected is to upgrade to Windows7 or above. However, for a lot of XP users that doesn’t just mean upgrading their software, but their hardware too. Many older PCs and laptops simply won’t have the processing power to run W8 or even W7. So, yes, those who are still tottering along using single core processors or even some early dual core set-ups may have to invest in some new tech as well as new software.
Out of MS Office hours
Another reason that this matters is that recent changes to the MS Office suite have rendered XP obsolete. Seeing as this is one of the most widely used business tools both for home businesses, SMEs and even the big players means that the changes in MS Office have had a real impact on the design of upgraded operating systems such as W7 and W8. In fact, it’s been highlighted as major contributing factors to the cessation of support for XP compatible systems altogether. Both Office 365 and Office 2013 are both incompatible with Windows XP, which means something has to give – and in this case it’s XP.
But the main worry is that the consequences of leaving yourself vulnerable could cost you a lot more than the price of a new laptop. A vulnerable system is a hackable system, and believe us, the hackers will sniff you out faster than a bloodhound chasing a Ribeye steak on a string.
Okay, you’ve scared the bejesus out of me. What do I do?
One simple word – upgrade.
Either go for Windows7 or, if you want to future-proof yourself for a little longer, Windows8 (although version 8 hasn’t been as well received as version 7). They’re both capable of supporting Office 365 and 2013, and there’s that all-important support in place for both systems well into the foreseeable future.
Windows7 is probably the most suitable for small business, and it currently commands a healthy 44% of the market. Both run faster than XP, which means less of a drain on laptop batteries. Windows8 is optimised for touch-screen tech, although that’s probably not a priority for SMEs right now. There’s also plenty of room for developing your system to take advantage of apps, and ensuring that your PCs and laptops are compatible with other tech such as smartphones and tablets.
So, what’s the panic?
It’s been shown that it takes on average around 12 to 18 months to fully upgrade an operating system within a business environment – and if you’re a big company you can look towards the top end of that estimate. You’ve got two weeks, tops. That means you need to act. Now.
So whilst we may all have a bit of a soft spot for XP, that withdrawal of support by Microsoft is going to leave around 37% of users vulnerable to cyber attacks, the risk of incompatibility with their customers’ systems, and without any access to all those wonderful applications and touch-screen wizardry. Upgrading isn’t really an option – it’s a necessity, especially if your business depends on your computer OS.
It’s time to say “Goodbye, XP, my old friend!” – and embrace the young pups that are Windows7 and Windows8.
Ready to take the plunge and upgrade to a newer version of Windows? We provide full upgrade support services. Contact us for more information.