Microsoft has officially ended its association with Windows XP. No further patches or security updates are going to be released and Microsoft also recommends users to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8 immediately.
Right now, an estimate of 30% of world’s 1.5 billion PCs still run on Windows XP. This is only based on counting internet-connected PCs.
By factoring in computers that are hiding behind governmental and institutional firewalls, and not traditional computers such as ATMs and other embedded systems there could be billions of computers still running on Windows XP today.
Windows XP was introduced back in 2001 and was an important release that wanted to give a new and better looking Windows Experience to users.
Windows XP went on to become the world’s most popular operating system by some margin even though no official figures were released by Microsoft till date.
Image credit: Net Market Share
Desktop operating system market share, as of March 2014
Desktop operating system market share, as of March 2014. Windows XP still sits at around 28% — and that’s only online computers. The real figure, including offline/firewalled PCs, is likely much higher.
The worlds ability to adapt to new technology is astounding, numerous governments and institutions including the Netherlands and United Kingdom have arranged for “Custom Support” plans, where Microsoft will continue to provide Windows XP updates at an insane expense ($9.2 million for one year, in the case of the UK government).
There are many large institutions that are still using Windows XP. Microsoft on their website listed some of the risks of staying with Windows XP.
Without critical Windows XP security updates, your PC may become vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage your business data and information. Anti-virus software will also not be able to fully protect you once Windows XP itself is unsupported.
Businesses that are governed by regulatory obligations such as HIPAA may find that they are no longer able to satisfy compliance requirements. More information on HHS’s view on the security requirements for information systems that contain electronic protected health information (e-PHI) can be found here (HHS HIPAA FAQ - Security Rule).
Lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) Support:
Many software vendors will no longer support their products running on Windows XP as they are unable to receive Windows XP updates. For example, the new Office takes advantage of the modern Windows and will not run on Windows XP.
Hardware Manufacturer support:
Most PC hardware manufacturers will stop supporting Windows XP on existing and new hardware systems. This will also mean that drivers required to run Windows XP on new hardware may not be available.