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Windows XP end of support: what it means for users

April 29, 2014 • Software, Top Stories

Technology giant Microsoft officially cut off any further support for their Windows XP operating system in April this year. IT News Africa posed a number of questions to Rotimi Olumide, Microsoft’s Sub-Saharan Africa Windows Lead on Windows XP, about the end of XP support, what it means for Windows XP users, and how they can easily upgrade.

Microsoft officially cut off any further support for their Windows XP operating system in April. (image: Microsoft)

Microsoft officially cut off any further support for their Windows XP operating system in April. (image: Microsoft)

1.       Does running XP now pose a security threat?

Running Windows XP in your environment after the product’s end of support date may expose your company to potential risks, such as:

·         Security Risks: Unsupported and unpatched environments are vulnerable to security risks. As the threat landscape evolves new vulnerabilities will not be patched. Without critical Windows XP security updates, your PC may become vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage your business data and information. Anti-virus software will also not be able to fully protect you once Windows XP itself is unsupported.

·         Compliance Risks: This may result in an officially recognized control failure by an internal or external audit body, leading to suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the company’s inability to maintain its systems and customer information.

·         Lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) Support: Many software vendors will no longer support their products running on Windows XP as they are unable to receive Windows XP updates. For example, the new Office takes advantage of the modern Windows and will not run on Windows XP.

·         Hardware Manufacturer support: Most PC hardware manufacturers will stop supporting Windows XP on existing and new hardware. This will also mean that drivers required to run Windows XP on new hardware may not be available.

·         Higher Total Cost of Ownership: Businesses incur a higher cost of purchasing custom support solutions for unsupported software.

Rotimi Olumide, Microsoft’s Sub-Saharan Africa Windows Lead on Windows XP (image: supplied)

Rotimi Olumide, Microsoft’s Sub-Saharan Africa Windows Lead on Windows XP (image: supplied)

2.       What is the easiest way to upgrade to Windows 8.1?

The upgrade to Windows 8.1 is extremely accessible to all our African customers. To get upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 8 please follow the below steps:

·         System requirements to install a new operating system can be found here.

·         Computers running Windows 8 can be updated in-place to Windows 8.1 via the Windows Store (for consumers) or using media (for larger organizations with volume licensing).

·         Computers running Windows 7 can be upgraded in-place to Windows 8 using media, then updated in-place to Windows 8.1 (using the process above).

You’ll find the system requirements for Windows 8.1, outlined here:  http://bit.ly/1h0Lf8e. We’re providing lots of information to our customers on options available for upgrading from XP to a modern Windows operating system – here: http://bit.ly/1qYd03Y

3.       Why do you think users still remain on XP?

One of the biggest reasons for users remaining on Windows XP even after the EOS is because post its launch in 2001, Windows XP became the most loved and popular operating software from Microsoft.  Concepts like Bring your Own Devices; mobility and virtualization all stemmed and started trending in the last decade, the same time as the launch of Windows XP, therefore ensuring that most users got accustomed to using this OS. For a little over a decade this OS has helped millions of people connect with others and be more productive in their office spaces.

That said, technology has changed a lot over the past 12 years. Many newer apps won’t run on Windows XP, new hardware may not support Windows XP and without critical Windows XP security updates, your PC may become vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage your personal information and business data. Anti-virus software will also not be able to fully protect you once Windows XP itself is unsupported. The best way to ensure that you are keeping your personal data safe is to upgrade to a new and modern Windows PC or tablet.

4.       What are your personal memories of using XP?

XP was the first Windows Operating system I recall using. It’s been reliable and very popular for a long time. I recall using it as my gateway to the Internet – the familiar, simple interface was simple yet very functional. I do recall that after a few years my computer seemed to get slower and slower. I often deleted files from my hard-drive and initiated hard disk clean ups in hopes of improving the speed of my machine. XP was a great operating system 10 years ago – however the advent of cloud computing, modern apps and smaller devices, built for touch – has created an entirely new ecosystem of devices & services. These new innovations present so many opportunities for individuals and businesses to do more and be more. XP was never intended to support these new innovations, that’s why we’re recommending that our customers transition to a more modern operating system, such as Windows 7 or 8.

5.       Would you say that XP was Microsoft’s most successful OS?

In 2001, Windows XP was launched, and went on to become Microsoft’s most popular operating system of its time, aiding consumers and business users to be more productive and secure as high-speed Internet became ubiquitous at work and eventually in our homes. It’s no question that Windows XP was an outstanding operating system to meet the needs of customers more than a decade ago.

Nearly 12 years later, technology has evolved in leaps and bounds, along with the needs and expectations of those who use it. Modern businesses now have an increasing need to protect their data and ensure security, compliance and manageability. Meanwhile, modern users demand technologies that fit their personal work style and allow them to stay productive anytime, anywhere on a variety of devices. This natural evolution of technology is what is at the heart of our product lifecycle policy.

6.       What does “end of support” exactly mean for XP users?

End of support means there will be no more security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates. This is in-line with our existing support lifecycle policy that has been in place since 2002.

Running Windows XP in your environment after the product’s end of support date may expose your company to all the potential risks highlighted above.

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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