Death Knell Rings for XP April 8
By Cristie Street
Since we now measure our business prowess in terms of technical savviness, it might be tempting to mock the less fortunate – those poor, under-powered users of Windows XP. After all it has been nearly 13 years since XP was heralded as the desktop operating system to revolutionize business productivity. In computer time that represents light years, not to mention a dozen new flavors of Windows. Though XP has long since crossed over to geriatric status, more than 30 percent of the world’s PCs still run this operating system. Even though no one has been able to purchase XP for more than four years, during the past year, Microsoft has been planning the largest OS memorial service in history to officially mark XP’s planned and publicized death on April 8, 2014. So why are there so many XP machines still in use? While there will always be slow adopters and laggards who only recently got comfortable with the Start menu, the problem of change is not exclusive to pace. Hundreds of thousands of XP machines in restaurants, retail stores, medical/dental practices and other businesses are simply running without much thought. They are under desks, driving simple applications we take for granted, but can’t live without. They have not required upgrades, but now businesses are forced to retire these old XP boxes, without adequate consideration of resources, priorities and interdependencies. Do they have cash to buy Windows 7 or 8.1 and new hardware to run it? Do they have people with the knowledge of migration tricks and pitfalls? Do they have other technology projects of more strategic value and, consequently, higher fi-
nancial risks? Does simply upgrading the desktop operating system lead to a broad ripple effect of additional software and hardware upgrades? That old printer, that scanner, that graphic design software all need to be upgraded – at twice the cost of the Windows software update. And we’re still resuscitating the economy, so there is not much cash or capacity stockpiled. If we skip XP’s funeral, can we pretend it’s not dead? This is one case where the risks of not upgrading clearly outweigh the costs. The hard, cold truth is that XP will be classified as “insecure” starting April 8. There will be no new security updates from Microsoft, no hot-fixes, no free or paid support options, no new technical help published. In addition, almost every ancillary product that installs on XP will end support. Most immediately, the anti-virus software will stop updating and become obsolete. Those who are regulated may go from compliant to uncompliant faster than Cinderella’s carriage turned into a pumpkin. Even if there is nothing worth protecting on the machine, it could be “owned” by a criminal entity and used for illegal purposes. And without patches, all XP boxes will eventually be owned. If you expect to be in business on April 9, you need a technology plan that does not include Windows XP. But then you can rest again as Windows Vista won’t die until 2017. As managing partner of Tucson-based IT firm Nextrio, Cristie Street enjoys discovering forgotten XP machines at more than 1,000 business clients throughout Arizona.
Winter 2014 > > > BizTucson 57
The Tucson Region's Business Magazine