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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 9th Oct 2013



by Dan Worth - 08 Oct 2013  - V3.co.uk 

Support for Windows XP will end six months from today as Microsoft tries to draw a line under its ancient operating system. However, firms of all shapes and sizes are still ignoring this looming issue despite the huge risks it will cause.

From 8 April 2014, Microsoft is ending all support for the platform, which will mean no more security patches or software upgrades unless firms pay for custom support. This has the potential to leave businesses open to attack on out-of-date and unmonitored systems.

However many firms have shown unwillingness to address the issue. Research back in April, to mark the one-year countdown to the deadline, revealed that over half of UK firms had done nothing to prepare for a migration to Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Microsoft said last month that it is finally starting to see businesses move away from Windows XP, but given that there is now only six months until the deadline it may be too late.

Adrian Foxall, the chief executive of application and software migration firm Camwood, which commissioned the research published in April, said any firm that has left it too late could face serious issues.

“Some of the really large enterprises are not going to be off XP in time and this will cause risks in terms of security and compliance, so they are going to have to get some sort of custom support," he told V3.

"However, that is not something Microsoft is really going to want to encourage or offer for all but the largest firms, so I do think we will see an acceleration in the next six months, but firms could still be left exposed for a while."

He added that given the short time frame it will be hard for firms to move their entire systems, so a focus on the most mission-critical apps is required. He also said it was unlikely that Microsoft will extend the deadline, especially as it has already done so before.

The issue of XP migration has also caused debate among V3 readers, with some saying they are still to move from the platform and are dubious that all organisations will be able to migrate.

"Still stuck on XP at work. Many modern programmes don't work with it, I think. No sign of Windows 8 on the horizon here either, only 7. Why?" said one. "The NHS is still using XP because the majority of medical software is old and won't work on 7 or 8," said another.

The huge user base for XP also means many in emerging markets are on the platform and will almost certainly not be able – or willing – to upgrade, which could also cause issues.

"XP has a real hold in India and I do not see those users giving up XP anytime soon. The reason is simple. XP runs on the lowest-powered PCs and laptops, and it is not broken, so do not fix it. Except MSFT [Microsoft Corporation] is now breaking it by not supporting it soon. The horns of a real dilemma."

Others have said, though, that firms only have themselves to blame if they have not taken the necessary action by now to move to a new operating system.

“XP is 12 years old. There have been three operating systems released since then. I have no pity for anyone still using XP. They have had plenty of time to plan for a migration to a more modern operating system,” wrote one.

“I moved from XP to 7, 10 months ago. It was an easy move,” said another.

One firm that has migrated is EasyJet, which completed a 9,000-seat migration from Windows XP to Windows 7, as reported by V3 earlier this year, as some firms have been able to make the move in time to avoid the cut-off date.

Hoping to cash in on this looming deadline is Dell, which this week unveiled a rapid migration service for companies hoping to move from XP to Windows 7.

V3 contacted Microsoft for a statement on the six-month deadline, but had received no reply at the time of publication.

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