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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 9th Apr 2014



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It's over. The end. Finito. Windows XP support is no more. From today, Tuesday 8 April, Microsoft has no plans to offer support for the ageing platform – unless you shelled out millions for custom support before the deadline.

For more than a year now V3 has been counting down to this date and covering all the various issues it presents, as well as some of the benefits, to help keep IT workers informed of the latest developments in this area of pressing concern.

To mark the arrival of the deadline, we've rounded up some of these articles to present a guide to all the key information you need to know to understand the context of the Windows XP cut-off, its importance, and what may happen next.

Usage
Why does it matter that XP support is ending? Because millions of devices still use the platform. Despite being released in 2001 the platform is immensely popular, for numerous reasons.

Recent data showed that around 27 percent of all machines on the web are still running XP. This is an impressive figure, but not one that Microsoft would have expected to see by 2014, especially with the end of XP so well documented.

For some, such as the UK and Dutch governments, use of XP is so embedded within their organistaions that they have had to splash out for custom support deals worth millions of pounds. Hardly an ideal state of affairs, especially for taxpayers.

Security
The reason millions has to be spent on custom support is because of the security risks posed by the end of XP, as there is no doubt problems will occur, according to leading security experts.

Microsoft has also been pushing this message hard, warning of impending threats and urging firms to embrace newer systems such as Windows 8 to avoid these problems.

It is not just computers that may be hit, though, with the banking sector frantically working to upgrade numerous ATMs around the world that are running on XP.

Alternatives
Moving from Windows XP poses a key question: where next? For most, the obvious answer is a newer version of Windows. Easyjet and Poundland both told V3 that they had moved to Windows 7 as part of their efforts to ease away from XP, and no doubt many others firms are undergoing similar transitions.

For others, though, entirely new platforms have been embraced, with Google scoring a key customer win when the London borough of Barking and Dagenham said it would be using Chromebooks to end its reliance on Windows XP.

Our Top 10 from last week suggested some more alternatives, such as opting for Apple Mac machines, embracing the open source world of Linux or even implementing a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy.

Benefits
Of course it's not all doom and gloom, and moving away from XP has plenty of benefits too. While the platform was great at the time, Microsoft has been keen to point out that it is ill-suited to the needs of most modern businesses on issues of productivity, mobility, security and connectivity, unlike its new platforms.

Furthermore, with new hardware with vastly improved specifications being released by numerous partners of Microsoft such as HP, Lenovo and Acer, a workforce may well enjoy getting their mitts on a high-powered, sleek and lightweight machine.

What next?
Wait and see. While there is the chance the situation could be another Millennium Bug fiasco where nothing much happens, this is unlikely. The use of XP across the world in numerous sectors will make it too tempting a target for attackers to ignore and the world is far more computer-dependent than it was in 1999.

With Microsoft effectively washing its hands of the platform there is no doubt one company or public sector body will be the first to suffer, and it could be this that finally makes others realise they have to do something to end their use of XP.

You have been warned.

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