Windows XP Machines After April 8, 2014 – Specific to KBM Customers, Friends, and Family

My most popular question of late "Should I be concerned about the security of my Windows XP after it goes unsupported by Microsoft, April 8, 2014?" For business users and home users alike, my response has been:

“Be prepared to replace the machines based on the support indications of your other software (e.g., Accounting software, Office software, ...). We need to especially pay attention to Anti-virus software vendors as they will be the last line of defense. If we need to replace hardware with new, then we really have no choice but to replace with a newer operating system. If we need to update software that is no longer supported on XP, we will have no alternative but to replace the hardware and OS along with the software to be updated.”

I am not explicitly recommending that organization or individuals replace functioning machines just to get rid of XP or that we attempt to upgrade to newer operating systems on hardware that would then marginally function with the newer operating system.

According “The Risk of Running Windows XP After Support Ends April 2014” published by Microsoft in August of last year, they explain statistics about the vulnerabilities that they fix with security updates and suggest mayhem will follow when XP goes unsupported. This article or ones that reference it are raising more concerns. So I want to make sure that all of my customers are aware of this perspective in the event you wish to be more aggressive in replacing systems. Microsoft’s data, states that 70% (give or take) of the vulnerabilities repaired on Windows 7 and 8 are vulnerabilities that they also repair in XP. This makes them anticipate that, after 04/08/2014, virus builders will monitor the security risks that they release for Windows 7 and 8, reverse engineer them, and then attempt to exploit them in the now unchanging Windows XP systems. According to this same article, Microsoft knows that the virus builders do this now.

This makes it sound like it’s going to be a free for all on Windows XP machines. It may be that bad. If I didn’t think it was a possibility, I would not be writing this to clarify my recommendation for you. When I originally read it, it made me a little more inclined to be ready to make a switch. Some experience that mitigates concerns for me is that KBM has customers for whom we do not turn on automatic updates even to current operating systems. We do this to maintain controlled stability for other software on the machine. I would think that the mayhem Microsoft and others are predicting for after 04/08/2014 for XP machines would currently be a significant issue for these customers where we allow security update to lag a little. As long as we keep active and up to date on Antivirus changes, letting updates lag has not produced any horrific issues. Past performance is not indicative of future results, but in all cases where we have XP machines, we either have no choice for the time being, we have redundancy of function on machines with newer operating systems, or we could pretty quickly bring in a new machines should we find mayhem really results. So I advocate for a wait and see.

Let me emphasize for home users who don’t have redundancy, if you are using Windows XP after 04/07/2014 AND are not running good antivirus software, all bets are off. KBM supports Norton 360 exclusively. I do not recommend free Antivirus Software. You are tempting fate, but free is better than nothing. No antivirus provides complete immunization, even Norton 360, but the free ones just are not thorough enough for my tastes. In all cases, I also recommend that you read my blogs from the past year at http://www.mygeekshopper.com. Safer surfing is possible with a little common sense knowledge that I have tried to share. However, in no uncertain terms, get yourself an antivirus application.

Many of my customers rely on donated equipment or software. You are the ones I suggest may not have a choice but to run Windows XP. If I have told you that your equipment will not run newer operating systems and provide reasonable response, it’s just the sad truth. On the up side, very soon after 04/08/2014, companies that are waiting and watching may be releasing some better equipment onto the donation market;-) If the wait and see crowd loses this bet, it will be more cost effective for us to replace hardware and OS together rather than upgrading just the operating system. I know there are some decent machines out there that have newer architectures running Windows XP. If you see something or are presented with a donation opportunity, let me know. KBM will help you as much as we can with in kind services to snap up worthy machines, load the new operating systems, and move your applications to safer environments. I will not leave you in the cold, if we can get some slightly used blankets;-).

So, if anyone does not care for the risks and plans I have described here and you would like to take a more aggressive approach to replacing your hardware and operating systems, let me know and I will draw up the plans and estimates and we can probably make it happen in April if you are that worried. If you are with me on the wait and see, know that I will be watching very attentively.