We Won’t Know Until We Know

If I may paraphrase Robert Frost, and since this is my blog, I may, “Nothing Good Can Stay”.windows_curtains_hp

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve no doubt heard by now that Microsoft is finally pulling the plug on, arguably, their best and most popular operating system, Windows XP.  Released for sale in October 2001, XP became the backbone upon which many modern day businesses were built, but on April 8th, Microsoft will officially cease all support for the vaunted OS. And only time will tell whether many of us will suffer due to the procrastination of others.

According to Microsoft, after April 8th, Windows XP users “will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates”. Translation? Well, in non-technobabble, your XP machine will still work, but, somewhere, someone is standing by salivating while waiting for April 9th because they’ve already found a way through XP and Microsoft won’t stop them.

Microsoft first announced the “End of Life” (EOL) date for XP waaaaay back in 2007.  Since everyone has had a full seven years to plan for, and make changes and upgrades, one would think that the problem is all but solved. And one would be wrong.

Consider this: According to stats compiled by NetMarketShare, in 2009, 2 full years after the EOL announcement, Windows XP still accounted for 74.3% of the system market share. By February 2013, that percentage was only reduced to 29.5%.  (For all the non-math majors out there, this means that almost 3 out of every 10 desktop PCs in the world are still operating on Windows XP.)

Who are these people?

Unfortunately for the rest of us, these people are primarily businesses. Businesses that routinely store our personal and financial information. Businesses like our doctor’s office, dentist’s office, lawyers, grocery stores, and an estimated 83% of the worlds’ ATM machines. Places that are privy to, and that store our information, will now be even more vulnerable to data breeches than before.

There are several reasons why these businesses haven’t made a move. Some can’t due to IT policies at their companies. In other cases, incompatibilities with hardware peripherals, unique devices and software all factor in. These major infrastructural changes can get complicated quickly, and for many businesses, the cost to do so is prohibitive. But 7 years?

It’s a sad day in my life when I find myself actually defending Microsoft, and in all honesty, they hold a bulk of responsibility for the lack of early migration due to the piece of crap they called Vista. However, by October 2009, Windows 7, a very competent alternative to XP, was released.

Personally, I believe that 5 years should have been more than ample time to make a gradual migration.  Failure to have done so leaves these businesses, and our data dangling out there, ripe for the picking.



2 thoughts on “We Won’t Know Until We Know

  1. I’m embarrassed to say that, from the beginning, I had no clue that the end was near. I suppose I wasn’t reading ‘the right stuff,’ or talking to the right people. So, yes, I’m surprised. That said, the only thing that doesn’t surprise me is that all of our personal information is, once again, just out there. Honestly, I thought I was ‘progressive’ when I was the only person I knew who understood that copy machines were just big cameras, that once traded in (or put out to the curb) retained a copy of everything we never wanted anyone else to see. I even railed against “shredders” that produced 1/4″ strips of paper that could easily be reassembled into the documents they were, hopefully, no longer supposed to be. This is why the scene I best remember from the movie, Argo, is the one where after embassy employees studiously and heroically stop to “shred” documents before running for their lives, a number of ‘puzzle people’ easily reassemble those same documents. So, believe me, my frustration is as great as yours, if for radically different reasons. I guess a whole lot of us only think we remember where we were in 2007, and while I’m tempted to reread this post to look for some vestige of humor, I doubt that it’s there, and frankly, I’m too depressed to try.

    • Chin up Vivian, This will soon be merely a blip on the historic radar. New, more exciting threats await and I’ll need allies!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.