windows xp

Windows XP Support end of life ? So…. ?

Windows XP Support end of life ? So…. ? 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

windows-xp-support-end-of-lifeThere are still about 488 million active copies of Microsoft’s Windows XP live and running. It’s a wonder what Microsoft can actually do to move people forward onto their newest desktop environments. But what have we seen so far?

I have seen a lot of scare mongering by the Microsoft PR machine. If you’re running Windows XP, it’s likely you’re getting pop-ups warning about expired support.

Microsoft have a real problem on their hands, infact they have delayed this plan to end Windows XP support twice already. The problem is that the majority of users unwilling to upgrade thier systems believe they:

  • Don’t care what Operating System they are using.
  • Can’t upgrade due to software limitations.
  • Are unhappy with Windows 8. (I agree)
  • Are not running internet connected systems.

While I can at least agree with one of their views that Windows 8.1 is a terrible OS, unfortunately I cannot agree with them all.

So many devices that we use every day run on XP operating systems.
From ATM’s , Display systems, Specialized medical equipment & POS systems. It’s scary to think what could happen if these systems were even inadvertedly connected to the internet. And don’t laugh, this can happen.

The matter at hand is more serious than you may think, as XP will no longer be a secure environment as of April.This means Microsoft will stop rolling out security patches, XP will no longer be patched for vulnerabilities. You know, the ones hackers with malicious intent find on a daily basis.

This may not be a huge concern for your regular Joe who stays glued to the web for a bit of web surfing and the occasional cat video. But imagine the ramifications for a company whose computer fleet can be taken down with one vulnerability. That this can happen due to running an outdated 13 year old operating system is beyond ludicrous.

Reports suggest hackers may be stockpiling vulnerabilities that Microsoft doesn’t even know about already!

The day the patches stop, the world is opened up to large amounts of exploits and zero day vulnerabilities. Bad stuff, which Microsoft will not assist you with or fix.

As at now, businesses should at the very least be running Windows 7. It is currently patched as per Microsoft’s twice a month patch cycle. April is definitely going to be an interesting month.

If you’re running outdated software, give us a call on (02) 8412 0000 before Windows XP Support runs out. We’d be happy to provide some advice, and ensure that your business– and your customer information– is (and remains) safe.

Windows XP End of Life in April: What to do if you have legacy systems.

Windows XP End of Life in April: What to do if you have legacy systems. 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

End-of-the-road-signOn 8 April 2014, Microsoft is ceasing support for Windows XP.  So what does this mean to small businesses that have legacy software, or devices that rely on XP for their business?

It could easily be argued that Windows XP has to be one of Microsoft’s most successful products ever.  After 12 twelve years, 30% of PCs in the world still run Windows XP.  This is pretty much unheard of in the IT industry. Home users who have never bothered to upgrade, as well as large corporations (including but not limited to most Australian banks) are still tied to this operating system. It has proved to be secure, stable, and met the basic needs of households and corporations alike.

When Microsoft stops support for the XP operating system, there will be no more security updates or bug fixes.  This probably won’t be of concern to the majority of SME customers, as we can assume that most of the issues have already been fixed.  What should concern business owners though is what happens when that old PC dies?  We all know that old computer hardware will eventually fail or need repairs, but once it is obsolete getting parts can certainly be a challenge, so it is best to have a plan well in advance.

Surprisingly quite a few of our customers have old applications, and even hardware accessories that will only work with Windows XP, and/or the older hardware platforms.  So the small business owner now needs to decide, do I replace this very expensive piece of manufacturing or medical equipment with something that supports a newer version of Windows, or are other options available to keep the old systems running?  When such equipment costs tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, the need becomes even greater.  Fortunately all is not lost.  Any good Managed IT Service provider should be able come up with creative solutions to keep you running.

One option is to stockpile spares of whatever components you may need.  Old computer parts can also be sourced from specialist providers if you know where to look.  Even if you need to pay a premium price for 10 year old technology, it still may be cheaper than replacing an entire system.  The key here is to plan ahead, because in the worst case, parts may need to be sourced from overseas, and can take days if not weeks to get here.

If it is just an application that needs to be kept running, the solution is likely to be simpler.  We would suggest using a technology called ‘virtualisation’.  This involves taking an image of the operating system and its application on the physical XP machine, and then run this machine within a virtual environment on a new, more powerful desktop or server.  Tools like VMware Converter and ShadowProtect make the process quite painless, but it always best to consult your local IT support provider to ensure this is a viable option.

So if there is a business case to keep those older machines running, it’s a good idea to include these machines in your Business Continuity and Disaster recovery plan. Call us on (02) 8412 0000 if you’d like more information on this or any other aspect of your IT infrastructure!