Many companies and businesses who still use Windows XP as the operating system for their computers recently breathed a sigh of relief. Microsoft announced last January 20, 2014, that due to customer concerns, it will further extend security update support for Windows XP by an additional 15 months. Windows XP users will continue to receive security updates through July 14, 2015.

In spite of this, why do companies and businesses persist on using Windows XP?

XP is widely popular

Part of XP’s popularity is due to the technology itself and the other half is due to the circumstances that have followed its launch.

It’s been a very shaky period financially for a relatively prolonged amount of time and prior to that period was Windows Vista, which everyone agrees was a failure. Before and during the economic downturn, almost everyone was using Windows XP.

Another recession arrives when Windows 7 came along. Then there’s that attitude with company and business owners: “If it ain’t broke, it doesn’t need fixing.” These cash strapped companies and business already have Windows XP running well and currently supported, so what’s the motivation for spending money on upgrading if you don’t need to?

Familiarity with XP

XP is simply an operating system format that even the masses are used to and comfortable with. Compared to its closest competitor, Apple’s Mac OS, Mac has never significantly improved, whereas Microsoft has improved its OS’ look, feel, comfort, and user-friendly iterations in leaps and bounds, most notably with XP.

However, on a more practical note and based on reality, the factors that have ensured XP’s success are now working against those organizations that have stuck by the operating system. Those organizations are now going to be in a pretty uncomfortable position because they’re in an industry that protects intellectual property. Due diligence says they should be doing all they can to make sure that it’s protected. Running an ancient operating system without eventual support will never do that.

What vulnerabilities will happen once support for XP ends?

Multiple computer problems

Windows XP cannot be installed on multiple computers because product activation is limited to just one computer. If you want to install XP on another computer, you will have to purchase a new license and a key code, which can be very costly. This is a major disadvantage since almost all organizations use more than two computers at the least. All the more reason to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8.

RAM (system memory) problems

XP features support for only up to 4GB (gigabytes) of system memory. This puts you at a significant disadvantage if you want to run applications that require a lot of system memory to function properly. If you want to install additional RAM, you will have to purchase Windows XP Professional x64, which supports up to 128 GB of RAM. However, it’s still XP and its support ends in 2015. It would be better to upgrade to a newer version of Windows operating system.

DirectX

As of 2010, most games are designed especially for video cards featuring support for DirectX 10 and DirectX 11, technology created by Microsoft to allow games to function efficiently on Windows operating systems. However, Windows XP supports DirectX only up to version 9. This causes games to look graphically less appealing when running on XP, and the only solution therefore is to upgrade.

Drivers

Windows XP was released with a lot of drivers for hardware components at the time of its release, but as of 2010, most of those drivers are outdated or the hardware they are made for are no longer in use. If you are running a computer with newer hardware and don’t have the drivers, you will be forced to search the Internet for those drivers, opening your computer to potential dangers from viruses and malware. Upgrading to Windows 7 or 8 means secure drivers and other support.

Viruses

As of 2010, Windows XP is one of the most widely used operating systems in the world even with the release of Windows 7. Unfortunately, this also makes Windows XP a prime target for malware creators. Therefore, surfing the Internet without anti-virus software can be very dangerous, because viruses made for XP can collect your personal information or cause irreparable damage to the OS.

Rising Operating Costs

In reality, instead of saving on costs, running Windows XP can cost five times more to manage than running Windows 7. XP usually runs on older machines; the combination of aging hardware and an ancient OS can increase the need for support resources and contribute to downtime and lost productivity.

In reality, the annual cost to support an XP-based PC averages $870, compared with $168 for a Windows 7 system. Even if the differences are not so extreme in an organization, the costs associated with supporting older systems cannot be ignored.

The Outcome

By sticking with XP, some enterprises are putting their systems at greater risk, sacrificing stability, minimizing productivity, and incurring higher operating costs. Thus, holding on to an old OS will prove only a liability. Organizations need to carefully analyze the potential costs and risks. Careful planning for a Windows upgrade needs to happen today, not two years down the road.

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This entry was posted by Staff Writer on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 5:12:44 PM and is filed under Computer Security & Data Protection, Small-Medium Business.

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