Windows XP: Companies Need To Begin Preparing For The End

Microsoft Windows XP

With just under a year of Microsoft support for its still-popular and widely used operating system, companies need to ensure they have proper migration plans and contingency in place for when this is pulled.

The next two months will be a tipping point for businesses that need to migrate applications. Those that fail to implement a migration or contingency plan over the next couple of months will risk not being able to move their applications in time and come next April’s cut off point, may face compliance issues.

According to Gartner and its latest research, more than 15 per cent of midsize to large enterprises still have Windows XP running on at least 10 per cent of their PCs.

Companies need to guarantee that they are keeping pace and adapting their workplace to suit legalisation requirements and new IT environments. This means ensuring they have the most effective tools in place to carry out the migration and to maintain any new technology following deployment.

When support for Windows XP ends, Microsoft will cease developing security patches for the respected OS. As it ages, new vulnerabilities will continue to impact Windows XP on a regular basis—including many critical flaws that could allow an attacker to take over or cripple a PC running it. Every day that passes once Windows XP support expires means new risks to businesses.

There may also be a legal issue, as the Data Protection Act of 1998 requires that anyone who handles, or has access to, information about individuals, is liable to protect personal privacy and upholds individuals’ rights. The act helps to make sure that the information held on computers is managed properly, which includes keeping it secure and safe from outside influence through the use of up to date software licences.

If companies are using outdated operating systems with no support, (as Windows XP will soon be), then this could be deemed as a breach of the Act and have far reaching implications. That said there is more to consider than simply implementing a ‘like-for-like’ switch of software; rather it opens the door to the conundrum of more evolved workplace strategies.

Where many workplace strategies tend to fall down is when companies don’t possess the right skills in-house and develop a plan without taking into consideration the full IT and business ecosystem. This can lead to policies that aren’t created or updated where they should be; and IT systems that are not aligned with business strategies.

Companies should use the next 12 months as an opportunity to evaluate the benefits of a flexible workplace strategy (reduced costs, improved peak performance), while at the same time making the migration away from XP in good time before the 2014 cut-off date.

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Kevin Beadon

Kevin Beaton is Line of Business Head for Workspace and Mobility at GlassHouse Technologies. Kevin has been at GlassHouse for more than four year. He is now responsible for all aspects of the Workspace and Mobility Line of Business including P&L, driving growth, new service creation, delivery of services, working with sales to increase new business and transition within existing accounts. Prior to this he was a technical architect at SGI group for seven years.