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RIP Windows XP – born Oct 25th 2001, died Apr 8th 2014

What to do if you’re still running XP on your business computer a month after its demise

So you are still running XP on your PC and the world hasn’t imploded around you and you weren’t even aware of the ‘End of Life for Windows XP’ congratulations you must be a home PC user or a very cool business user.

Most of us can afford to take additional risks with our home computer as our livelihoods don’t depend on it.  If the home computer goes down we simply swap to another PC/tablet or even the smartphone that 70% of us now carry.

Realistically that’s fine for home.  For the rest of us though working away with PCs in support of our business dealing with XP PCs on our network really does matter.  At this stage we have now simply ran out of time, budget or faith but are not so foolish as to declare, ‘Hackers be damned do your worst to my livelihood’ especially as Microsoft have posted their first security advisory note on a hole in Internet Explorer that will not be patched on XP http://bit.ly/1iygbKz

So, practically, what’s to be done to manage the situation as best we can until we can make the time to plan for upgrading/replacement ?

Quick check list to keep you going

• Ensure you have the latest version of XP which is Service Pack 3 (abbreviated to SP3)
• Make sure that every single patch that came out prior to April 8th has been applied
• Check your anti-virus program is the latest version and receiving regular, at least daily, updates
• Broadband router firewall, if fitted, ON
• Windows Firewall, ON
• Web Security software installed if you simply must be on the net
• Ideally though, disconnect Ethernet cable from the back of PC. 

This last point is the only secure way of ensuring you can continue to run XP having removed the primary source of any new infection.  Ideally USB and DVD/CD drives should also be disabled as those are secondary sources of infection.

Upgrading/replacing XP PCs

In our experience it’s best not to waste your time thinking about upgrading that 6-8 year old PC.  You know its performance is already shockingly bad and exasperates you every day in life waiting for it to respond. What’s more, upgrading the memory and licence to Windows 7/8 will cost a minimum of £200 in parts and labour  and a Windows 8.1 PC with an i5 Processor and 8Gb of RAM and a 5 year next business day on-site warranty from a branded manufacturer will cost you around £495. Chances are you have a widescreen already so you just need the base PC.

Final considerations for Business XP Users
Windows XP itself will keep on working after 8th April. The important change is that after that date Microsoft’s Windows Update service will stop providing patches for the operating system, including security updates. As time goes by with any Windows XP PC still in your business, connected to your network you’ll be increasingly leaving yourself open to hacker attacks.

You may have already noticed, through other suppliers emails, that not only can Microsoft wash its hands of Windows XP support but so can all the companies that made software for XP. It’s reasonable to assume that most of those companies stopped actively developing for XP years ago, though they are still supporting the applications that run on it. However, after Windows XP end of life on April 8th with no further back-up support from Microsoft they will have less reason than ever to maintain their applications running on XP.

The implications of this reality run far and wide. Line-of-business software is surely affected, as are any of the myriad of small applications you are using to provide the wee tweaks, add-ins that every business needs to fill in the gaps in their main business applications.

If there was one reason above all else to compel business owners to migrate from XP to the current Windows 8.1 then not being able to be supported for your core business application that pays the bills would surely be it.

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute professional or other advice.

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