Windows XP is a 12 years old operating system that users have enjoyed and become very comfortable with. But like with all products, progress marches on and the old ones need to die to make room for the new. Microsoft announce a while ago that it was “ending support” for Windows XP effective April 8. There were legions of dedicated users who shrugged their collective shoulders but were not overly concerned and I am sure planned on marching right along with the system they are used to. But last week Microsoft tried to put the final nail in the coffin of XP by announcing that they would no longer be offering any support for Windows XP version of Microsoft Security Essentials, the company’s free security and anti-virus application.
So, not only would Windows XP users no longer have any support for the OS itself, they will also be losing security patches as well as no more virus updates. Even a novice user with his head stuck in the ground like an ostrich could simply ignore the fact that this meant his machines would be extremely exposed, and get more exposed day by day if he continues to use XP. It is estimated that up to 31% of the entire worlds internet users are using Windows XP. This strategic move by Microsoft was obviously a very clear push for the tens of millions of users worldwide to finally ditch their XP system and to upgrade to Windows 8.1. While the strategy was obviously not going to please the customers who were going to need to upgrade to stay protected it was seen as a natural evolution of product and the nudge for migration was normal process.
But then Microsoft, for whatever their reasons were, announced that the planned end of support for Security Essentials had been re-examined and that the company’s new position was that it would continue this support through July of 2015. Since the average computer user isn’t very technology savvy, they could easily get confused and think this means that XP is still a supported and safe product to use if Security Essentials is installed. While this may give some users a sense of security, Microsoft themselves has stated, “research shows that the effectiveness of antimalware solutions on out-of-support operating systems is limited.”
The bottom line of all of this is that Microsoft has left the users and the industry confused on what their exact strategy is and what the customers should be doing. Are they protected or not? Should they migrate or can they wait? It will be interesting to see the industry and market reaction in the weeks ahead as we approach the April date.