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Are You Ready for the Last Windows XP Patch?

Tomorrow represents a milestone for many PC and Exchange administrators. It's the long-dreaded day when Microsoft will issue its last patch for Windows XP, Exchange 2003 and Office 2003 (which, of course, includes Outlook).  It's also an important day because Microsoft will also issue the Windows 8.1 Update.

As reported in this month's Redmond magazine cover story, 23 percent of polled readers will keep their Windows XP-based systems running indefinitely. Only 28 percent of you have completed your migrations or have no Windows XP-based machines left. Even though tomorrow is the end for Windows XP, barring any unexpected events, the day will likely come and go without incident -- though you won't be able to avoid hearing about it if you're watching the evening news or listening to the radio.

Nevertheless, Windows XP systems will be around for the foreseeable future as they slowly fade over time. Until then, if you're just using Windows XP for PC apps and are not connecting to the Internet, you shouldn't have any problems. For those still connected, it's advisable to remove the default administrative privileges, enable memory and buffer overflow protection and allow whitelisting for zero-day vulnerability protection, as noted by security software supplier McAfee.

For many organizations, upgrading Windows XP PCs is not a simple task, especially for those with apps that can't run on newer versions of Windows. While there are many remedies -- rebuilding apps, using third-party tools or desktop virtualization/VDI -- all come with a cost and some simply don't see a need to change OSes. Others do but just are going to have to let that deadline pass and either pay extra for support or take other measures -- or perhaps just cross their fingers.

Redmond columnist Greg Shields put it best. In last month's Windows Insider column, he compared replacing Windows XP-based PCs to replacing an aging bridge. "Fixing a bridge or replacing it entirely is an inconvenient activity," he wrote. "Doing so takes time. The process often involves scheduled setbacks, cost overruns and incomprehensible activities that are tough to appreciate when you're idling in construction traffic."

While tomorrow represents the end for Windows XP, Microsoft will issue its Windows 8.1 Update that comes with a more mouse-friendly Start Screen, the ability to pin Windows Store apps to the task bar and APIs that are shared with the forthcoming Windows Phone 8.1.

Right now only a small handful of enterprises are moving to Windows 8.1. But as Microsoft makes more progress in blending the old with the new, perhaps the aversion of moving to the newest version of Windows will subside.


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/07/2014 at 12:40 PM


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