On April 8, Microsoft Corp. will end its support for the Windows XP operating system.

After 12 long years of receiving security updates, having Microsoft technical support answering your phone calls or emails, and confidently receiving third-party support for new software products and peripherals, that will all end next Tuesday. Microsoft is encouraging its user base to migrate away from Windows XP to a more modern version of Windows, namely Windows 7 or Windows 8. Of course businesses will also have the option of moving to a different operating system like Mac OS X or perhaps a Linux variant.

Microsoft is also cutting support for Office 2003, so that productivity software you’ve been enjoying on that old PC will also need to be upgraded. Just like Windows XP, it will no longer receive assisted support, software updates, or security patches. Without that sort of service from Microsoft, anyone running either Windows XP or Office 2003 risks attack from a hacker that takes advantage of an unpatched vulnerability or exploit. Aside from the security risks, businesses that have to meet compliance standards may also face risk of breaching their regulatory obligations by not upgrade the software.

Windows XP – end of support countdown

If your business is still running Windows XP, there’s some urgency to take action to ensure you don’t suffer as a result. At IT World Canada, we’ve been following this topic for long ahead of the expiry date. Back in 2008 we even spearheaded a “Save XP” campaign asking Microsoft to extend the length of time it would sell Windows XP (it did, more than once). But now that the OS is finally on its last legs, we can offer you a full guide on what the end of support means and what you can do about it.

Get help migrating from Windows XP

Migrating away from Windows XP might not be the easiest IT task ever accomplished. Complicating the issue is the fact you can’t just upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7. The upgrade path would be XP to Vista to 7, and Vista wasn’t widely deployed. But there are tools out there offered up by Microsoft and other vendors to make things easier on you and keep your data in tact as you move to a new PC, or wipe your current machine clean and install Windows 7.

Is this the end of Windows XP, or Y2K?

Since we’ve known about Microsoft’s planned end of support for Windows XP for a long time, there have been plenty of time for rumours to fly. Some trumped up the migration woes faced in an upgrade from XP to a new version of Windows. Others wondered what might happen to the legions of PCs still running the unpatched OS and what mayhem that could unleash. Here’s a look back at some of the real threats posed to users of Windows XP and some migration myth busting with Steve Heck, CIO of Microsoft Canada.

I really want to keep running XP

If you’re running Windows XP still, you’re not the only holdout. Windows XP is still being run by 58 per cent of Softchoice Corp. customers, the IT services firm reported late last year. Another IT services firm, Fiberlink, reports 40 per cent of its users are still running Windows XP. So is there any way you can keep it without taking unreasonable risks? Maybe. If you can move to a terminal services model, or just completely isolate your PC from outside files that are possibly malicious, then you can keep your Windows XP PC running for as many games of solitaire and minesweeper as you like. Our Community Blogger Brian Bourne walks you through it.

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  • RPW

    “Microsoft is also cutting support for Office 2013″ _ ithink you mean Office 2003…….

  • fsarangi

    It is amazing that so many SMBs and some large organizations have not yet migrated to Windows 7 or 8.1.

  • mcvane

    yes, for business it’s a major expense to overhaul all their systems/operating systems to be compatible with the times. However, from a practicality standpoint, as long as you are fine with the risk (small business or home user), why switch if you are happy with what you have? I have a 2003 car. Should I be ditching it because someone tells me I should? I think it’s fine…