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Thursday, 23 January 2014 10:07

The Passing of an Old Friend, Windows XP (10/25/2001 – 4/8/2014) Featured

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post 77 picOn a non-descript October morning in 2001 Microsoft brought into the world the latest addition to its Windows family of operating systems, Windows XP. 

It became the beloved companion of millions of computers over the years.  A web analytics firm, Net Applications, estimates that it is still being run on over 30% of the world’s 1.5 billion computers. 

But this old friend has reached the end of its life, and late last year Microsoft announced that it would be ending support effective April 8th, 2014.  It will be joined in death by its close friend, Office 2003. 

No services are planned.

Cause of Death

As with any death the immediate question is always “Why?”  Microsoft’s policy is that Windows and its Office products will be supported for a minimum of ten years and XP is in its 13th year.

So what happens on April 8th?  Does it suddenly stop working? 

No.  It means that no new security updates, fixes, or patches will be available.  The longer you have those machines in your office, after the April date, the more vulnerable they become to viruses and hackers. 

Independent software vendors are unlikely to support XP with new versions of their applications and PC hardware manufacturers will stop supporting our late friend.  You should be making plans to replace your XP computers.

Your options for replacement run the gamut of upgrading the operating system on the existing hardware to replacing the entire machine.  I suggest you consult your hardware vendor or technical consultant to evaluate which direction is best for you. 

An upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 will cost around $300 for the software, but this may only be the beginning.

Survived By

XP was preceded in death by its venerable ancestors Windows 1.0, Windows 2.0, Windows 3.1 and Windows NT.    It is survived by Windows Vista, Windows 7 and its infant brother Windows 8.1. 

With the heritage of this family it is no wonder it had a long and productive life.

However a long life means that lots of ancillary hardware and software may have been built to run only with Windows XP.  Certain printers, keyboards and digital sensors know no other companion.  Office 2003 will not work on newer versions of Windows. 

This may complicate your upgrade options.  When you talk to your hardware vendor or technician, make sure you provide a list of the software and hardware attached to your old XP machine.  It’s very likely that newer versions of the software, hardware drivers or perhaps additional memory may need to be obtained and there may be costs associated with that. 

We have found that certain digital sensors will only run on Windows XP, leaving no alternative but to replace the sensor with the operating system upgrade.  

Remembrances

Once you’ve examined your alternatives for replacing XP you will eventually find yourself contributing remembrances to Microsoft, hardware and software vendors and technicians to help perform the upgrade.

If you choose to ignore the demise of this Windows operating system there will likely be no immediate ramifications.  HIPAA does not specifically prohibit the continued use of XP.  They prefer to make general statements about maintaining a stable and secure environment. 

But if you have a security incident and it is the result of a vulnerability that you have chosen to ignore, expect the HHS Office of Civil Rights (the HIPAA police) to take particular interest.  Leon Rodriguez, the head of this group was recently quoted:

“We have moved into an area of more assertive enforcement.”

Acknowledging the death of this old friend with a remembrance to the federal government would be an expensive and wrong click.

.

Read 2461 times Last modified on Thursday, 23 January 2014 10:43

2 comments

  • Comment Link Mark ONeal Thursday, 23 January 2014 12:19 posted by Mark ONeal

    Excellent post. Poignant and insightful, it dispels the rumor that XP is not HIPAA compliant but still explains why it is a good idea to plan your upgrade soon.

    If you are a person who doesn't like changes on your computer, you should plan upgrading to Windows 7 as soon as possible as the changes are less dramatic than Windows 8.

    Microsoft will likely discontinue sales of Windows 7 in the very near future, so get it while it is still available.

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  • Comment Link Dan Thursday, 23 January 2014 11:45 posted by Dan

    Good friend indeed!

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