Disaster on the horizon for Windows XP users
Throughout these past few years, Microsoft has made repeated attempts to wean users off Windows XP through scare tactics and enticing prospects for newer operating systems.
Despite their best efforts, there is still a considerable amount of people who remain adamant. Some resist upgrading due to the cost, others hate the idea of having to become adjusted to a new system. Whatever the reason, Microsoft has recently introduced a feasible ‘zero day forever’ scenario which could occur after 8th April 2014 when the company stops building patches and updates for XP.
This suggests that you will become ever more vulnerable as time progresses, especially if you’re running Internet Explorer. Expect a surge of new problems but with no support for fixing them.
By now you may be thinking that Microsoft is just being plain evil but in fairness, not many companies are willing to support a product for 12 years, particularly if the majority of its customers have moved onto the newer systems.
With every Windows operating system there is a mild risk factor although this is more present in XP than the later versions. Windows 7 for instance is far better at defending itself from attack. The table below demonstrates this.
Infection rate (CCM) by operating system and service pack in the fourth quarter of 2012 as reported in the Microsoft Security Intelligence
From these figures you can just imagine how vulnerable XP will be when you are no longer receiving patches for critical weaknesses. It would be unwise to depend on it.
As mentioned earlier in this article, it’s important to realise that if you are going to stick with using Windows XP then you should at least be using an alternative browser to Internet Explorer. You’ll need one which is still going to be receiving bug fixes and updates which ensure it has the best defence for new security problems and such.
It should also be noted that the Malicious Software Removal Tool that runs alongside Windows Update will no longer be available post April 14th.
As well as this, it’s important to consider the effects that this will have on future software. The author may decide it is too much effort to support an outdated operating system. This is something that is already happening but not on a massive scale at this point in time. It could be argued that if the users are happy enough to stick with XP then they’ll be likely to keep using the same software too.
On the flipside, there’s no concern for the foreseeable future in regards to antivirus support. After some research, I have noticed that certain antivirus systems still have around 20% in Windows XP users. Kaspersky for instance have stated that they will be continuing support for this operating system in their 2015 product line so this will last for at least two more years.
The main reason discontinuation of Windows XP is more of a threat than with past operating systems is because of its massive presence in the market. According to various sources, 45% of companies still have Windows XP which is a notably larger percentage in comparison to when Windows 2000’s support was nearing its end for instance.
In conclusion, you may be able to get away with using XP for a little while longer but the services, support and safety are already going into decline and will continue to do so. We advise that you upgrade within a reasonable time scale to avoid aggravation later on.
Image Source: Microsoft