Mar 24, 2014
“Going, Going, Gone…” Still Running Windows XP?– 4/8/14 looms. . .
It was August 24, 2001 when Windows XP was first released to manufacturing. Millions of systems are still running this robust and well-healed version of Microsoft’s Graphic Operating System, and now after nearly 13 years, Security Updates and Support will no longer be provided after April 8, 2014. What does this mean to those who are still relying on and running Windows XP? Will it cease to operate on April 9, 2014? No. It will still function, and that presents a dilemma for many users. What it means is that as vulnerabilities are discovered, (and they continue to be, even after all these years), those “holes” won’t be patched. Clues to vulnerabilities are often signaled to “hackers” when updates are released for more current operating systems. Other weaknesses may have already been discovered and the malware purveyors are simply waiting until the deadline for support so that they can take advantage of them. So, we know that unpatched Windows XP machines will be targets.
What can one do if they own a Windows XP system or many XP systems? The safest approach will be to disconnect any Windows XP machine from the Internet and from other systems that are connected to the Internet. Even if a Windows XP machine is protected with a strong Anti-Virus/Firewall Security product; is configured to run as a “Standard” user (non-Administrative rights), if connected to the Internet, it is akin to locking the doors to a building and leaving the “Windows” open (pun intended). It just won’t be safe to use a Windows XP system long after April 8th. Plans should include replacing hardware equipped with Windows XP with either Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Many Windows users who are not committed to Windows-based proprietary software have the option to moving to an Apple OS platform or even a version of Linux.
Many users who are committed to Windows XP own software that just won’t run on the newer platforms. They often have substantial investments in proprietary, custom-written, software programs that do not run properly on anything BUT XP. For those users, I recommend limiting their exposure to Internet related activities as much as possible. If at all possible, they should be restricted from directly accessing the Internet and setting up newer systems that will handle the Internet traffic. Even systems that utilize Virtual installations of Windows XP are vulnerable. These are commonly found on Windows Virtual PC installations; Windows Terminal Servers and Mac systems running Windows inside a virtual environment. Think also of the many Automated Teller Systems running Windows XP in a Kiosk style mode. There are so many exposed installations that one would think that Microsoft would change their deadline.
Now, let’s be fair to Microsoft. They have given Windows XP quite a long run given the normal life-span of technology. 12+ Years is really an “eternity” when it comes to the life span of other products and software in the techno-world. Consider how many other software companies are still supporting software versions that they developed in 2001? Many aren’t even in business, let alone supporting their products from that time. Intuit, the makers of Quicken™ and Quickbooks™ for example, have a product life-cycle of only 3 years. They force users to upgrade EVERY 3 years to maintain current support. So, XP users – you have had a good run, you are now aware of your exposure, you know the risks, and the real question is – What are you going to do?
This is fifth in a series of aSKaVIE articles devoted to your productivity, digital privacy and protection. In future articles, you can look forward to tips and tricks that you can use to make sense out of your digital investments as well as reviews of new and exciting things that will likely provide value to your home and business. I invite you to write me with your questions and feedback. We’ll also be helping and inspiring others by answering your questions and that’s what makes my job so much fun! So stay tuned. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Avie Uniglicht: For over 30-years, Avie Uniglicht – “Your Tech Concierge™” has provided technology support and solutions to entrepreneurs who don’t have time to worry about the details. Specializing in “White-Glove Remote Room-Service,” Avie’s concept of giving you, his client, virtual “house calls” is cited regularly as invaluable and many of Avie’s clients say they couldn’t live without him on speed dial. Avie graduated Summa Cum Laude from Temple University with a BS in Business Administration. A former auditor for Price Waterhouse and past President of Ace Computer Center Inc., he is also the author of the e-Book, “Your Personal Computer Driver’s License.” Avie’s extensive business background and strong experience in accounting enhances his natural talent for helping his clients see the bigger picture regarding their business. “Your Tech Concierge” helps clients evaluate strategy so that together, they create an action plan with the end in mind. For more information or to “Ask Avie,” please call him at (888)-374-3712, and visit www.askavie.com.