'In denial' XP users left vulnerable as Microsoft logs off

Microsoft will cease supporting its Windows XP operating system next April, leaving millions of enterprise users with no protection against new security vulnerabilities as they fail to upgrade despite more than two years' warning.

Microsoft will cease supporting its Windows XP operating system next April, leaving millions of enterprise users with no protection against new security vulnerabilities as they fail to upgrade despite more than two years' warning.

The company says 10 per cent of all PCs in Australia, about 2.5 million, are still running XP. Globally the figure is much higher. StatCounter puts it at 21 per cent, Netmarketshare.com says XP is installed on 31.4 per cent of PCs globally. And the popular software's share is not declining at the rate that might be expected: it has dropped only eight percentage points in the past 12 months, according to Netmarketshare.

Tim Rains, director of product management in Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing group, said any new vulnerabilities discovered in Windows XP after its "end of life" would not be addressed by new security updates from Microsoft.

"After April 8, Windows XP ... customers will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates," Rains wrote in a blog post.

Joseph Sweeney, analyst with research firm IBRS, said cyber criminals might be "stockpiling" XP attacks and waiting for Microsoft to end support.

"There are indications that there has been a slowdown in the number of new attacks and malware for XP," Sweeney said.

"I would find it unlikely there would be some grand global conspiracy to hold anything back, but there are a lot of crime syndicates involved in malware today."

Brian Walshe, general manger of Microsoft integration at Dimension Data, suggested many people still running XP were in denial about its imminent demise or had put the transition into the too-hard basket and were suffering from "planning paralysis".

Full story: theage.com.au/it-pro

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