On April 8th 2014 Microsoft are retiring all support for its Windows XP operating system and Office 2003. XP has been a reliable and stable operating system for more than a decade, but increasing demands for faster, more secure, highly functional computing have now brought about its demise. In fact the last major upgrade Service Pack 3 was released in April 2008 so XP computers are generally at least 4 years old and we know of some systems that are 10 years old and still working!
If you are still a Windows XP user and it does all you want; “So what” you might say. “I can do all I need with my current computers and don’t want to spend money on replacing or upgrading.”
The first thing we would say is that you can’t expect your computer to last forever, one day it will fail and will need to be replaced (possibly urgently). Compatible spare parts will become even more of a rarity as time moves forward so repairing becomes less of an option.
Putting aside the possibility that you may have lost all of your historic data if you haven’t been diligent in regularly backing up, users will have a steep learning curve to cope with the most modern Windows operating system; currently Windows 8.1. There are also compatibility issues with other software and devices to consider and, if replacing a PC in an emergency situation, this can turn into a costly exercise when discovering that printers or accounts software also needs to be replaced in order for it to work.
Microsoft issued “security patches” are designed to plug holes in their operating systems (and applications) where “hackers” are trying to compromise the program for their own uses. You could ask “why isn’t the product 100% secure from its initial launch” but when you consider there are billions of programming instructions in multiple languages it is an impossible task. You also have to consider that hacking tools have been greatly advanced since the release of Windows XP and what was secure a decade ago is no longer so. In fact all Microsoft operating systems have improving inbuilt security as you move towards the current releases.
What are hackers trying to do on your computer? Primarily extortion, getting their hands on your money, or using your computer to impact the operations of larger corporate organisations. Wide publicity on the impact of hackers is routinely seen in the press and having good quality fully updated antivirus is a must as a first line of defense.
Using scare tactics, we could be quite justified in saying that from 9th April 2014 Windows XP computers are open field for hackers. It is believed that areas of Windows XP have already been exploited but the hackers are keeping a lid on these loop holes until they know that a fix will not be issued; i.e. wreaking havoc on all XP users. Conversely we could point you back to the beginning of this century when it was suggested that many computers would become vulnerable to hackers due to their inability to roll over the date from 1999 to 2000. Commonly known as the “Millennium Bug”, it really turned out to be a non-event.
Undoubtedly XP computers will be targeted by hackers and really the impact is unknown but there is most definitely a greatly increased risk of infiltration and possible exposure of personal information.
The purpose of this article is to highlight these risks so you can make a judgment on what to do. Are you prepared to risk that this will be a non-event and can be ignored or do you need to take action.
If you decide that action is required the import thing is that this is a managed process. Give yourselves time to assess which PC’s need to be replaced or upgraded, assess if any compatibility issues will arise and get users trained on new systems.
Putting aside the scare factors, due to age XP computers will fail and need replacing. Managing this process on your timescales and budget will be a far easier and cheaper transition than picking up the pieces in a disaster scenario.
ACS Technologies can help your migration from Windows XP in a variety of ways and manage the process from initial assessment to installation and training if you require.
1. Assess your current IT systems and review which systems need to be replaced and any systems which may be suitable for upgrade
2. Look at associated hardware and software to confirm compatibility
3. Put together a quotation and project plan. This can include finance options and roll out plans for staged migrations on larger projects
4. Supply, install and configure new systems onsite
5. Train users
6. Provide ongoing support to cover the hardware, software, network and users for trouble-free IT infrastructure.
We are currently offering FREE initial review sessions if you would like to discuss upgrading your systems and find out any implications. Please contact us if you would like to book a session with one of our consultants. We do have a limited number of free sessions available so please don’t delay!