As the April deadline approaches for the cut-off of technical support for Windows XP, it appears there are still many users determined to hang on to Microsoft's ageing platform until the bitter end, potentially risking a malware infection.
At this stage in the game, it seems somewhat pointless to continue urging the XP diehards to begin a migration, as it is now far too late for any organisation to complete such a move before the deadline rolls around, unless they started planning for it some time ago.
And if you are a consumer who just can't be bothered to switch – well, that's your own affair, so long as you aren't endangering anybody else's systems by continuing to run XP.
I must admit to having little sympathy for those complaining about the withdrawal of all security fixes for XP. Microsoft has been warning about this move for years, at least since mainstream support for the XP platform ended way back in 2009, if not earlier.
It's worth remembering that XP was first launched in 2001, making it almost 13 years old now. This is ancient history in the fast-moving world of IT. And while some mission-critical operating systems are older than this and still being supported by the vendor, Windows XP can hardly be regarded as a mission-critical platform.
Let's face it, XP is just old. Outdated. Had its day. Past it. Microsoft has released not just one, but three major versions of the Windows platform since Windows XP, in the shape of the ill-fated Vista, Windows 7 and its successor Windows 8.
Windows users can't expect Microsoft to simply support Windows XP in perpetuity, as it costs the firm to keep developing patches and updates for each piece of software it produces. This is why Microsoft is offering to maintain XP support for large organisations, but only if they are willing to pay for special support, as the UK's NHS is planning to do.
The fact that so many people are still running XP also has me puzzled. Why haven't users upgraded to at least Windows 7, which is widely regarded as probably the best version of the platform that Microsoft has produced?
The global recession may have forced many to rein in their spending plans on new hardware and software, but Windows 7 has been available on new PCs for over four years now. If you haven't refreshed your desktop or laptop fleet since before then, your systems must be badly in need of an update by now.
One reason that is often trotted out is application compatibility, but it's difficult to see what critical applications might still be around that only support Windows XP. If you do have a vital enterprise application and it still requires Windows XP after all this time, a frank conversation with the developer would seem to be in order.
For businesses, this is more than just a polite debate over which version of Windows is preferable. Using unsupported software means that companies are not meeting regulatory compliance requirements, especially if they are in the finance sector or handle customer information using those systems. If any sensitive information were to be exposed because you are running XP, your company would find itself without a leg to stand on in the eyes of the law.
However, this is unlikely to sway those individuals out there who have decided to stick with Windows XP regardless. Just remember that if you choose to go down this road, you're on your own.
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