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Windows XP for Life

With the clock ticking on Microsoft's plans to pull the plug on Windows XP, analysts are warning the millions of enterprises users still running the 12-year-old operating system that time's running out. A careful migration can take many months and up to a year (depending on the shop) and waiting until the last minute or past the deadline means there will be no more security patches after April 8, 2014.

Microsoft also confirmed it won't support Windows XP Mode in Windows 7, for those who are concerned about that, though if they are running Windows 7 as their host OS, their systems should be protected. There are many options for migrating to Windows 7 and/or Windows 8, and my colleague Kurt Mackie wrote an exhaustive and thoroughly researched analysis on many of those options, which you can find here.

Yet a reader quickly commented: "We have no plans to move off XP after support ends. Our specific compatibility needs are met only by Windows XP and unless Microsoft reverses course and puts back Windows XP features in modern Windows, it is XP that we will continue to use. In fact we find newer Windows quite a downer to productivity and usability."

I have received a few e-mails saying they'll use Windows XP until they die. One Redmond reader, Mike, responded a few weeks ago with the following: "XP will continue to run millions of users' applications for decades. Just the Microsoft support options are going away, not the OS. No reason to worry."

Well there is a reason to worry, especially if your machine is connected to the Internet, which is pretty much a given these days. Your systems won't only be more vulnerable to attack, but they could very well become purveyors of malware. So if you do plan to stick with Windows XP, you'll need to find some way to protect it -- both for your benefit and others.

As for Windows XP Mode in Windows 7, one reader e-mailed me the following suggestion:

"I understand Microsoft's position regarding XP Mode. After all, users have had plenty of warning and, after all, XP Mode is Windows XP SP3. Microsoft cannot be expected to continue to issue patches for XP Mode and not XP.  That said, I would hope that Microsoft will not remove XP Mode from Windows 7 via a service pack come next April.  Even if they do, it would still be better for Windows XP users to install Windows XP SP3 under some other VM tool (such as VMplayer) running under Windows 7 than to continue to run Windows XP on bare metal."

While it's true there are some legacy programs that run on Windows XP or below, and some users still have some old MS-DOS-based systems chugging along, most enterprises will be best served by migrating to a newer operating system. The process may be painful, but most should find the benefits worth the effort.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/24/2013 at 1:15 PM


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