Safety warning over Windows XP time bomb

MICROSOFT will place thousands of businesses at risk by dropping support for its Windows XP software, new research claims.

Camwood, an IT firm, says today that 40 per cent of business computers are still running the 12-year-old software, and that three in five big companies that use XP are not prepared for Microsoft dropping security updates for it.

The firm warns that this will put the companies “at risk of cyber attacks, security breaches, theft and exploitation” and says that one in five businesses it surveyed plans to continue to use XP even though support for it ends one year from today.

Windows XP has been Microsoft’s bestselling operating system since its launch in 2001, but has proved so popular that Microsoft has struggled to convince consumers and businesses to pay to upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8, released in 2009 and 2012 respectively.

Data from Net Applications, an analytics firm, found last week that XP is installed on 38.7 per cent of computers, compared to Windows 7’s 44.7 per cent and the 3.2 per cent that run Windows 8.

Camwood, which sells services that helps businesses move over to new software, surveyed 250 IT bosses from companies with more than 2,000 PCs each. It said budget issues were one of the biggest reasons for companies not upgrading.

“The message that Microsoft is switching off the lights for Windows XP is being received loud and clear by the IT community but it would appear that the business don’t understand the perils of remaining on XP after 8 April, 2014,” the firm’s chief executive Adrian Foxall said. “In these tough economic times, it is not surprising that business leaders do not want to invest a substantial amount of money in something that essentially isn’t broken.

“But with an estimated 40 per cent of business desktops still running Windows XP, IT [managers] and [executives] need to join forces and work together [to move to new systems]. Failure to do so will put their company in jeopardy.”