So here we are at the windows xp end of life. Microsoft has made a decision to end support for its 12-year-old OS Windows XP in April 2014
The fast looming deadline for Windows XP support will galvanise hackers, as they target hundreds of millions of users on unpatched systems.
Microsoft has already granted the 12-year-old OS several stays of execution, but the company has said it will finally end extended support on 8 April 2014 – despite the fact that XP remains the second-most popular OS, with almost a 1/3 of all PCs running it.
These hundreds of millions of desktops and laptops will be vulnerable to hackers once XP stops receiving security updates, with Microsoft warning earlier this year that hackers could use patches issued for Windows 7 or Windows 8 to scout for XP exploits.
“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, the director of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing group.
When hackers develop exploit code they will not have any security updates to overcome, meaning Windows XP will henceforth have a zero-day vulnerability.
Microsoft noted that XP shared 30 security holes with Windows 7 and Windows 8 between July 2012 and July 2013, giving hackers ample opportunity to reverse-engineer vulnerabilities. Windows 7 will continue receiving patches but Microsoft will no longer issue safe underwritten patches.
Failure to migrate could leave businesses open to infections, denial-of-service attacks and data theft, according to Camwood. Aside from the inconvenience and costs to address the attack, companies can also face fines.
In the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office hasn’t issued such clear-cut guidance, but it has the power, under data-protection law, to fine institutions that hold credit-card information insecurely on their systems.
Options – Upgrade your existing PCs
To upgrade a PC you will need to run a program supplied by Microsoft (Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor) first to see whether your PC can handle the new operating system. It is also worth increasing the RAM on the PC to make it run more smoothly.
When running the Microsoft tool it shows whether the PC can have the 64bit version of Windows 7. If so see if your machine can manage 4GB RAM.
If the PC will run Windows 7 we recommend having that data is backed up and do a fresh install. This helps ensure software and drivers are reinstalled properly and having your original data restored.
If it is an old PC it may not be financially viable to go through this process.
Option 2 – Purchase Replacement PCs Windows 7 / 8
If your PCs are old and may potentially run slowly on Windows 7, it might be best to bite the bullet and invest in new PCs. It is still possible to purchase PCs with Windows 7 installed rather than Windows 8. We recommend Windows 7 over Windows 8, especially for businesses.
This will obviously require your data to be moved and programs to be installed but at least you have confidence that it will run well with Windows 7 and the PC has a fresh warranty.
In both of these instances you must check that all the software you use and any add-ons on your PCs will run on Windows 7 and will work on 64-bit. There are some things that will not run on 64-bit operating systems.
If you would like a Free Audit of your current System and a report on how best to proceed, please call our team or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment.