Microsoft has announced that as of April 8, 2014, they will no longer provide support for Windows XP operating systems.

What does this mean?
Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP computers after 12 years, meaning they will no longer provide technical support or release regular updates and patches for this operating system. As a result of the discontinuation of regular updates, XP machines may become vulnerable to malware and viruses that are designed to attack security holes.

Windows XP users are encouraged to migrate their systems to an updated operating system like Windows 7 or Windows 8, where they will receive regular security updates and enhanced protection.

What are the risks associated with running Windows XP after April 8th, 2014?
– Without critical security updates and patches, XP machines will be vulnerable to viruses, spyware and malicious software.
– Latest versions of software will not necessarily be compatible with Windows XP. Also, some software vendors will no longer support their software if it is running on an XP machine. (This also includes newer versions of Internet Explorer starting with IE9).
– Businesses and industries that operate under specific regulations and are required to maintain current technology run the risk of compliancy issues.

Tell me more.
It is imperative for businesses that are governed by certain regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), SEC compliancy, ALTA compliancy or the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s rules and regulations to stay current with technology trends so as to remain compliant. If a computer is running an outdated operating system and is accessible by the internet, it automatically fails to meet PCI DSS compliancy. In an industry where professionals are required to maintain a certain level of security, they would not be able to legally attest that all measures were taken to protect the data in the event of a breach.

Additionally, because sensitive data would no longer be fully protected, keeping XP operating systems could harm both the reputation of the company and client trust. Some organizations may even be required to disclose their failure to meet compliancy regulations.

Because there are such substantial risks involved in running XP operating systems after April 8th, 2014, completely upgrading all company computers, including remote PCs, may ultimately save the company money. Windows XP’s vulnerabilities have the potential to cause a loss of clients/business, a decrease in end-user productivity, an increase in downtime and loss of data due to viruses and malware, and even hardware failures. These risks, in combination with the fact that an XP operating system is likely running on an outdated computer, suggest upgrading all network computers is the most cost-effective alternative.

When Windows XP was launched 12 years ago, it was designed to accommodate a now almost antiquated method of networking. From cabling to remote access and everything in between, today’s networks are much more advanced than those during XP’s prime.

The experts at Plummer Slade highly recommend that all XP users upgrade to a current operating system in order to maintain the integrity of company data, client relationships and meet compliancy requirements. Let us know how we can assist you in this process.