On April 8, 2014, support ended for Windows XP. The company announced that support for the operating system would be terminating with a fairly lengthy six year lead time. Back in 2008, Microsoft made the decision to end support for the XP operating system. However even with a six year warning, some companies have yet to either make or complete the transition to a more recent version of Windows. Now Microsoft is in the position where they are being paid to privately support some Windows XP users until they make the transition to another platform.
One of the companies that missed the support cut off deadline is the IRS. The Internal Revenue Service admitted that not only did they miss the deadline but that they will be paying for security patches to support their XP systems until they complete the transition. The IRS anticipates having their systems upgraded to Windows 7 by the end of this calendar year. Unfortunately for the agency, Windows 7 appears to be losing support in about six years as well. The company has indicated that support for Windows 7 will continue only until 2020. That means that the IRS will be making another operating system transition in the next few years.
Microsoft will be privately supporting some other XP users as well. Both the Dutch and the British governments are now buying extended support in order to alleviate malicious threats against their systems. Some companies, such as Olsen Environmental, feel that the upgrade to Windows 7 does not offer any features they require so they continue to run the XP operating system. The companies that continue to run with the outdated system but chose not to pay for extended private support, do not appear to be concerned with any vulnerability issues.
The problem stems from the fact that the older the system becomes, the more vulnerable it is to threats if it has no technical support. Every time a hacker or someone playing with the system finds and exploits a loophole or some type of vulnerability, there will be no fix to correct the issue and no support forthcoming from Microsoft. The issues will remain and the ability to break into the operating system will become less and less difficult. According to research, there is somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of companies that are still utilizing the XP operating system. The company tracking the data does not track information on ATM’s, only laptops and PC’s so the actual total may be more.
The companies which are still currently using XP range from financial corporations and utility companies to airlines and government agencies. Most of these companies will be migrating to Windows 7 as opposed to Windows 8. While it may seem to make sense to upgrade to the most current system, some companies are worried that the changes are simply too different and the upgrade too much of a leap for their end users. While many businesses are attempting to move away from XP in the near future, according to polls given to IT professionals, a fairly significant percentage indicate that they will not leave XP until it completely breaks down. In the meantime, companies such as the IRS who are more concerned with vulnerability will be paying Microsoft to privately support their users until the switch can be made away from XP to a more current operating system.
By Dee Mueller
on twitter @TuesdayDG