In “internet years” Microsoft’s Windows XP has been around for eons. It was released in August 2001, and in less than one month, on April 8, 2014, Microsoft will cease to provide support and security updates. The security updates patch vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malware and help to keep users and their data safe. Because of the continued use of XP in homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, and ATMs around the world, this has the potential to create massive security issues.
AVAST will continue to support Windows XP users by creating protection modules and detections to cover vulnerabilities and other security problems for at least the next three years. Our latest version, avast! Free Antivirus 2014, works well with older machines running Windows XP because of its light footprint, speed, and negligible resource consumption, making it a perfect choice even for older machines running Windows XP. AVAST protects more XP users than anyone else. You can get it free now! Download avast! Free Antivirus.
What does this mean for businesses around the world?
The end of Microsoft support means you will no longer get security updates or new support information updates for Windows – for free. Very large customers will have an option to subscribe to a program called "Custom Support," an after-retirement support contract, but this is not available for SMBs or individual home users.
In an informal survey of AVAST partners, we learned that many businesses still use Windows XP and have delayed upgrading because of budget limitations as well as software and hardware compatibility issues.
Frank Mayer, an AVAST partner in Greece said that most of his customers are still using Windows XP, but because of the ongoing financial crisis in the country, “I see no change in the near future. In this crisis, no one easily spends money on new PC's and /or Operating systems.”
“In Romania, most computers in public institutions still use Windows XP, and about 75% of them cannot support an upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 due to hardware limitations,” said Claudiu Chirita of Easy Media SRL. “The same situation is present in the SOHO segment where software upgrades will involve hardware upgrades or replacement.
How many still use Windows XP? What’s the risk?
“I think the users do not sufficiently understand the cessation of support for XP,” said Mladen Dumitraskovic from StudioNexT in Serbia. “They need to consider the possible consequences and seek appropriate solutions. The decision of AVAST to support XP in the next three years is welcome, and I think it will surprise our regular customers.”
In the USA, business customers are “majorly concerned” about their security, but their plans are encouraging. “Very few will not convert at some point, except for off-line systems,” said J.R. Guthrie, president of Advantage Micro Corporation.
That’s good to hear, because AVAST telemetry data shows that XP users are 6 times more likely to get attacked than Windows 7 users.
IE users: Switch to a new, secure browser
Many XP users, like those in Russia, still run Windows XP, but they are “indifferent” about security concerns, says George Salnik, General Engineer for the BelRus company in Russia. “Zero percent plan to upgrade from Windows XP. Only when they buy a new PC will they receive a new OS automatically. Clients have a budget: Why change something when everything works?”
In Ukraine, where political tensions are running high, none of Idealsoft's customers are considering an upgrade from Windows XP yet. After 2015, when Microsoft Security Essentials support ends, "Then they will think about it. The situation in the country is not a stable one at present," said Evgen Shakula.
Something that can help those users be more secure is switching their browser. XP users often also use Internet Explorer, which can be a severe security risk. Right now, IE 8 is the latest version that will run on Windows XP, meaning that it’s 3 generations old and no longer receives critical updates.
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