Microsoft recently announced that support for its Windows XP operating system will end on April 8. While many have already begun the transition over to a new OS, some users have found that the migration is a large and substantial project and may elect to remain with XP despite end of support. The latter group can still utilize their XP-based devices and maintain protection with Faronics’ restore solution Deep Freeze.
Notes from Microsoft
Visitors to Microsoft’s Windows webpage are currently greeted by a countdown clock comprised of days, hours, minutes and seconds noting the time left before support is pulled for Windows XP. The company announced that after 12 years, they will not be issuing security updates or technical assistance for the operating system. Microsoft has also noted that support for Office 2003 will end on the same date.
The organization is urging users to “take action,” as end of support means that workstations continuing to function on XP after the set date “should not be considered protected.” Microsoft noted that several security threats, including viruses, spyware and other malware could infect hardware after April 8.
In addition to information posted on the company’s website, Microsoft has been notifying users on their own machines through a pop-up notification that recently began appearing. The alert reads “Windows XP End of Support is on April 8, 2014. Click Here to learn more,” providing a link to XP webpage. Individuals can turn off the notifications in the pop-up box, or continue being reminded every 8th of the month until alerts are disabled.
While the operating system will no longer be updated with patches, the company will still issue anti-malware signature and Microsoft Security Essentials engine updates until July 14, 2015.
Applications feel the effects
Besides ending support for the operating system itself, security experts have also pointed out that application developers will likely cease creating new programs for the OS, and may also stop supporting their XP-based software.
Although these groups have likely stopped developing new applications for XP a number of years ago, Microsoft’s End of Support announcement will create a shift throughout the industry. Once April 8 rolls around and support ends, application and software developers will more than likely follow suit and stop issuing updates as well.
End of support: Next steps
This leaves users with an important choice to make: continue running XP on their workstations, or migrate content and programs to a new operating system.
One strategy individuals can utilize is to use Windows Server 2003 R2 to extend the support timeline. XP’s support will cease in about a month from this publication date, however, Microsoft will continue to issue patches for Server 2003 R2 until July 14, 2015. While this gives the user more time to weigh their options and implement the transition process, it is only a bandage for the larger end-of-support issue.
During the decision making process, some users are finding that migrating their content is a difficult process. Furthermore, the undertaking of this project may make it nearly impossible to move some applications as they were created especially for XP and will not operate correctly on other systems.
“Rather than take a straight upgrade to Windows 7, people are looking at alternatives, one of which is to stick with XP,” said security expert Grant Tiller.
Despite the security scares from Microsoft, it is possible to remain on the Windows XP operating system and still protect content and programs kept there. With a simple reboot, a software restore solution like Deep Freeze can restore the computer to predetermined setting if it becomes infected. Additionally, a whitelisting application can also ensure that known vulnerable programs are blocked from running on the OS, decreasing the risk of compromise.