Windows XP and 2003 - End of LifeThere has been some news lately about government death panels due to the health care law.  I don't know about those, but one thing is for certain, and company can declare a date that their products will die -- in a sense.  This is call product life cycle and at some point, all products will reach their end of life.

Microsoft has declared that on April 8, 2014, Microsoft Windows XP, Server 2003 and Office 2003 will reach their end of life.  Since approximately 40% of all business PCs still run on XP, this is a big deal for companies throughout the world.  This should be of concern for your business, and many will have questions on how this affects your company.

Will my computer stop working on April 8, 2014?

No, your computer will continue to function after April 8, 2014.  End of life (EOL) means that Microsoft will no longer support these products after EOL.  In other words, it will not release patches, bug fixes, service packs or security fixes.

So if my computers will still function, why upgrade?

Because there will be no security updates for Windows XP, 2003 and Office 2003, your computer is vulnerable to viruses, spyware and hackers.  It has been widely reported and discussed in the security community that hackers have not been exploiting current vulnerabilities in these programs to "save up" for larger attacks after EOL.

Won't my antivirus program protect me?

Not entirely.  Many of the exploits that hackers use to attack a computer are in the underlying operating system.  Windows XP and 2003 have always had issues with viruses being able to penetrate the operating system, bypassing antivirus.  This is due to the underlying design of the operating system and was fixed with the release of Windows Vista and Server 2008.  You cannot expect to be fully protected by any antivirus program on XP and 2003, even today.

The other issue with Windows XP is that many vendors are not releasing updates to their programs for that operating system.  Many programs are now designed for Windows 7 or 8, and will not work on XP.  If your application has a security vulnerability and does not have updates for Windows XP, you will not be able to upgrade.  Most of the security holes that attackers have been using are in the web browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari) and other common programs (Adobe Reader, Java) that are found on most computers.  The latest version of Internet Explorer (IE), for example, supported on XP is IE 8.  IE 11 is now available for Windows 7 and 8.  If you are on XP, you are 3 versions behind.

I have PCs to upgrade, what should I do today?

The biggest thing I am suggesting to clients is to upgrade a few PCs at a time, and try to have them all replaced by next April.  This is one problem that you should not procrastinate fixing.  The winter is a good time to buy equipment because many manufacturers are offering good value on hardware.  Also, there are tax advantages of purchasing in 2013.  Finally, lease options make the purchase less painful, spreading the payments for the PCs over time.

Should I switch to Apple or Linux to avoid this in the future?

Apple and Linux both have a regular operating system life cycle like Microsoft.  Going to a different provider doesn't negate the issue of the need to upgrade periodically.  Apple and Linux both are known for their enhanced security over Microsoft, but many business applications only run in a Microsoft environment.  Additionally, Apple hardware is generally more expensive than PC, increase the cost of replacement of the machines. Finally, users are generally trained and comfortable in a Microsoft environment, so it will require more planning to move to a different operating system inside your business

Stimulus Technologies is ready to assist you in planning for the EOL.  We can assist you in deciding when to move forward with your migration, implications on your current applications and saving on the upgrade expenses.  Feel free to contact us at any time at 855-564-3166 or through our contact us form for more information.