Microsoft announced today they will continue to provide anti-malware software updates past the April 2014 end of support for Windows XP. For those that felt pressured to migrate to Windows 7 or 8 before the deadline, this might sound like a big relief.
It is not.
Don’t be fooled. Yes, continuing to get updates to Microsoft-supplied anti-malware software is a good thing, but that’s just one part of your risks and your defenses. Microsoft did not announce they were extending support and updates for Windows XP itself. And if you’re not using Microsoft anti-malware software, then the announcement doesn’t help anyway.
Here’s the deal: If Windows XP isn’t patched by Microsoft on a regular basis, new exploits are revealed and your computer gets more and more vulnerable over time. Microsoft’s XP patches stop in April. At that point Windows XP gets increasingly dangerous to your business and information. What’s worse is that security researchers have suggested there’s a pile of XP security exploits already developed, and miscreants are just waiting for April to release them. If they’re correct, an avalanche of unannounced attacks on XP would arrive in April or May, and any PCs left running XP could be reduced to quivering jelly. Or something. Anti-malware updates won’t protect against all those possible attacks.
The solution? Well… you already know the solution. Get rid of Windows XP and move to…
- Windows 7
- Windows 8
- Mac OS X
- …whatever it takes.
Let’s be honest here. You’ve known XP needed to go for years now, as Microsoft has extended the XP deadline again and again and again. At this point any excuses you’ve got left are hollow and exposed as either laziness or criminal cheapness. There are no legitimate excuses left.
And nonprofits don’t get a free pass here. In many ways nonprofits have it easier than other businesses, given the insanely cheap licensing avaiable via TechSoup or the very affordable charity licensing available from Microsoft.
I’m a pretty compassionate IT professional, recognizing that nonprofits in particular and businesses in general can find IT systems management challenging. But when it comes to Windows XP as of April 2014, I have no compassion left.
As Jim Gaffigan would say, Chip Chop Chip!