Windows XP was released by Microsoft back in 2001. Though the company has come out with various new operating systems since then, many computer users have chosen to stay with Windows XP. In fact, estimates are that this popular operating is still used on around one third of all computers around the world. Even in an advanced country like Germany, about 11 to 20 per cent of the computers are still running Windows XP.

Windows XP Support's End

No more security updates for Windows XP

Over the 13 years since its introduction, plenty of hackers have targeted this operating system. To protect computer users from these attacks, Microsoft had been releasing about a hundred security updates each year. That has all come to a stop now, and Microsoft has ceased all technical support for this popular operating system. No more security updates, for an operating system installed on so many computers worldwide, could make this a hacker’s paradise and a global risk.

It’s amazing how so many businesses are still using XP. Some companies are not even interested is switching to Windows 7 or 8 and here’s why. First of all, ditching XP and installing new systems means spending money and quite a lot since companies will need the original versions. And second, they’ll have to teach their people how to use the new systems and that means losing a lot of time and decreasing productivity. That’s particularly difficult in organizations where the average age of the personnel is over 40.

This lack of support could have dire consequences for XP users. Without regular security updates from Microsoft, new security holes to be exploited by hackers will go unplugged. Andreas Marx, an IT expert, expects that it won’t take long before the operating system will have so many holes it will be “like a Swiss cheese.” He foresees hackers being able to easily exploit these issues.

Windows XP Hackers

Windows XP – perfect environment for the dirty deeds of IT hackers

Hackers try to gain access to computer systems to install viruses and other malware. Once such a program is applied to a person’s computer, it can do damage such as erasing important files, copying sensitive information from that computer, or allowing the hackers remote access to use that computer for their own purposes. This is big business, and cybercrime such as this takes in billions of dollars for criminals. These people could be just waiting for a chance to take advantage of XP security openings.

A spokesman for the Institute for Internet Security in Gelsenkirchen, Norbert Pohlmann, said that after Microsoft stopped XP support, it is too risky to use any XP computer to access the internet. He pointed out that such use not only endangers your own computer and your data, but can also endanger others by helping a virus to spread.


Ditching XP and choosing Windows 8 means more money for Microsoft

Microsoft wants users to move to the modern version of their operating system, Windows 8. This would mean more revenue and easier support for the company. They also point out that the newer operating system has better security features built in.

However, changing operating systems will not be easy for everyone, in spite of the fact that XP support has now ended. In China, close to 80 per cent of all computers are still running XP. Other developing countries also have very high numbers of XP machines. This is partly due to the fact that it runs well on older, less powerful computers. The missing security updates pose an enormous security risk, with this many computers involved.

European countries are not immune either. Some governments in Europe have made deals with Microsoft technical support that will buy them a little time, getting support in case of problems. ATM machines are also at risk. NCR, one of the largest makers of the machines, says that of the 2.2 million ATM machines in the world, only one third have been updated to newer operating systems.

Security experts advise anyone currently running Windows XP to upgrade to a newer operating system as soon as possible. How many of you are still using XP? Don’t you think it’s time to give your PC a makeover?