After 12 years, support for Windows XP and Office 2003 will end on April 8, 2014. There will be no more security updates or technical support for the Windows XP operating system.
Windows XP was the most widely used operating system in the world until August 2012, when Windows 7 overtook it, according to web analytics data generated by Net Applications. As of December 2013, Windows XP market share is still a shade under 30% of the installed OS, and many firms have not made sufficient plans to move to a newer system.
Microsoft has previously warned that the end of Windows XP support will be starting pistol for hackers, who will scour new updates for any vulnerabilities which could also apply to older versions.
“The very first month that Microsoft releases security updates for supported versions of Windows, attackers will reverse-engineer those updates, find the vulnerabilities and test Windows XP to see if it shares [them],” wrote Tim Rains, director of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing group.
“If it does, attackers will attempt to develop exploit code that can take advantage of those vulnerabilities on Windows XP. Since a security update will never become available for Windows XP to address these vulnerabilities, Windows XP will essentially have a zero-day vulnerability forever.”
Microsoft will continue to provide virus warnings for Windows XP users until 14 July 2015 – over a year after all other support for the software is scheduled to stop.
Microsoft had previously said that it would halt all security updates on 8 April 2014, when support for Windows XP ends. The extension is intended to give organisations a little more time to complete their migrations to newer versions of the operating system, according to Microsoft.
However, the company warned that the effectiveness of anti-malware solutions on out-of-support operating systems is limited. “Running a well-protected solution starts with using modern software and hardware designed to help protect against today’s threat landscape,” Microsoft said in a blog post.
Microsoft say that it is very important that customers and partners migrate to a modern operating system such as Windows 8.1. Customers moving to a modern operating system will benefit from dramatically enhanced security, broad device choice for a mobile workforce, higher user productivity, and a lower total cost of ownership through improved management capabilities.
While this is true, you don’t want to use XP and Office ’03, they are now 12 years old and with less or even no effective anti-virus protection you are taking a big risk. So what to do? Well you have a number of options.
- Upgrade the OS and Office: This is preferred route that Microsoft would like you to take. How realistic is this? First is you are still on XP it’s a fair bet the PC is old. Yes, you could upgrade to Win 8 or Win 7 and add Office 2013 but with old hardware the performance is going to be sluggish at best. And you will have to fork out a couple of hundred pounds. If you do upgrade you need to navigate the Microsoft licensing nightmare of selecting the correct Windows version: Home Premium 32bit or Pro 64 bit for example? If you need to connect to a network don’t go for the Home versions as they don’t understand true networking.
- Buy a new PC with Windows 8 or better Windows 7 complete with Office 2013. A basic Dell with Windows and Office will set you back less than £600. It’s hard to purchase a slow PC now as they all have a reasonable CPU, huge disk and a reasonable amount of RAM. Always good to order a new PC with as much memory as you can that should be at least 8GB. One other option to consider moving to Office365. With this service you can subscribe to Office and an enterprise E-Mail service for a reasonable monthly fee. Highly recommended.
- Move to an Apple Mac. The value of Apple is legendary. Yes they may cost more than a Dell but that’s not a straight comparison. The new MACs include an Office suite – Pages and Numbers as well as iLife for Photo management. You know that any Dell with come with bundled junkware and you will need some sort of virus protection. Add that £40 / year into the mix and your 3 year cost of each is very similar. Plus after three years your Mac will still have considerable value, compare that with a worthless 3 year old Dell that you would be hard pushed to give away.
Please, if you have an XP box do one of these three options and do it soon. As a Microsoft Cloud partner we can help you with the transition away from XP and into the brave new world. To see a new Apple MAC in operation visit any Apple store or arrange a demonstration at Taybridge Towers.