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