Windows XP Crunch Time Cause for Worry

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    Most articles about the end-of-support for Windows XP, for over a year, have resembled’s today: Microsoft Ends Support for XP Next Month. Are You Ready? Good advice on how to assess use of XP in your organization and options for deciding how to handle the transition.

    But recently, arguments against Microsoft’s move to try to force users off the aging operating system by ending support and patching on April 8 have been dissecting the potentially negative consequences more fully.

    Computerworld’s Gregg Keizer makes his comprehensive case against the foolhardy Microsoft move today. Microsoft, he writes, has itself predicted that malware infections of XP machines could rise more than 66 percent after end-of-support, as hackers have an open shot to use all information about other Windows versions to attack XP. And while Microsoft may have hoped that this wouldn’t be the case one month before the scheduled cut-off date, the fact remains: Net Applications data shows that 30 percent of PCs around the world run on XP.

    The risk to Microsoft’s hard-won reputation for its baked-in security process is monumental, writes Keizer, not least because most end users don’t care which version they’re using – Windows is Windows.

    He also questions the strategy going forward, looking to possible treatment of newer Windows versions, and how Microsoft believes its policies will affect its partners’ sales of hardware, ecosystem software, etc.:

    “Microsoft must have calculated that the risk to its reputation is warranted, that the damage would be less than the reduction of revenue if it continued to support XP, and the reduction of future revenue that would mean by setting a precedent.

    Yet it has already set that precedent. When it extended XP’s lifespan from the normal 10 years to almost 13, it established a policy that may need to be repeated years from now, as Windows 7, the standard edition for businesses, approaches its end of support in 2020.”

    The issue is particularly worrisome in China, where half of PCs run Windows XP, and widespread software piracy, according to ValueWalk, “discourages users from spending money to upgrade …” And though Chinese officials have warned Microsoft that forcing XP’s end of support may actually hurt the anti-software-piracy policies there that Microsoft loves, the company wants to pursue the $32 billion market opportunity for itself and its partners, according to The New York Times’ Sinosphere blog.

    March 11 will see the next-to-last Patch Tuesday for Windows XP. Five security updates will be included, reports The VAR Guy, and four of them affect XP.

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