As kill-date nears, 25% of NZ business PCs are still on Windows XP
UPDATE / Nov 6: As the kill-date nears for the 13-year-old Windows XP, Microsoft says 377,000 PCs in NZ are still running on the 13-year-old operating system software.
The company says the total includes 18.8% of all personal PCs and an astonishing 25.3% of PCs used by businesses.
After several last-minute stays-of-execution, Microsoft says it will be curtains for real on April 8 next year (or almost curtains, large corporate customers will be able to pay for patches).
After April 8, 2014, no more security fixes will be released for the ancient but still popular OS. That means Windows XP PCs will be vulnerable to malware, Microsoft says.
Although clearly still popular with its business customers, Microsoft says XP has done its dash.
Microsoft NZ Windows Business Group Manager Dean Edwards says the operating system was designed for a different world. It can't handle today's security and data privacy expectations. He adds that a lot of software - he gives the examples of Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft's own Office 2013 - cannot be installed on a PC running Windows XP.
Microsoft has set up a website to help people make the transition to its new Windows 8 (some corporates are angling for the older Windows 7).
Still, for some organisations it's going to be wrenching. As your NBR reporter moves around his community, from the local primary school to Bunnings Warehouse, XP is everywhere.
Windows XP will live on after its official kill date in April, 2014 - but only for some
UPDATE / Aug 27: Reports of Windows XP's demise have been greatly exaggerated, says Computerworld.
The IT paper says the April 14, 2014 kill date - after which there will be no more security updates, potentially putting hold-outs in peril - does not apply to some customers.
Which ones? The ones with a lot of money. For $US200 per PC, Custom Support contract holders will be able to get "critical" bugs and security flaws fixed - but will be have to pay extra to get merely "important" fixes, while problems rated "moderate" won't be addressed at all. And that's just $US200 for starters. It will increase each year after the first year.
Microsoft calls time on Windows XP, still used on 500,000 NZ computers
April 9: As a 12-month clock ticks before it discontinues support for Windows XP on April 14 next year, Microsoft NZ says 500,000 computers in New Zealand still run its old operating system.
Windows XP was first released in 2001, and has since proved its successors' biggest competition.
Everyone from big organisations to your correspondent's local primary school have stuck with the stable, reliable XP as Windows Vista, Windows 7 and now Windows 8 have arrived.
Now, Microsoft says that in one year's time, it will no longer provide support for XP. Among other things, that means no more security or bug fixes.
Hold-outs may now feel under pressure to finally upgrade - although some will note Microsoft has been calling time on XP since 2008, only to constantly grant the venerable OS a last-minute reprieve.
This time, it could finally be curtains. Microsoft NZ managing director Paul Muckleston says while it has proven one of the most popular operating systems in his company's history, the decade-old XP was imply not designed to face today's cyber-attack and privacy challenges.
If you're happy with XP, can you just stick it out regardless, and live without Microsoft supporting your software?
"Users definitely need to ensure they're still getting security updates for their computers," Institute of IT Professionals NZ CEO Paul Matthews tells NBR.
"Given the large user-base, there is a chance Microsoft may feel obligated to extend support. But either way, it's time for those using Windows XP to change."
He adds, "In the case of business, it might also be a good opportunity to review their wider technology systems as well, to see if there are ways they can do things more efficiently. This might include both operating systems (of which there are choices) but also broader software in use (for example accounting software, point of sale, office suite, core systems, etc). We would recommend having an independent professional (such as those accredited with ITCP Certification) conduct this review."
Microsoft vs Microsoft?
Don Christie, a director of IT services company Catalyst and past president of the NZ Open Source Society, was not so much fussed that Microsoft was putting a deadline on XP support as the fact our government is often focussed on Microsoft vs Microsoft solutions.
"There is a huge issue with lack of real platform choice for government agencies," Mr Christie told NBR this morning.
"They are trapped on a dead end platform with nowhere to go except another dead end. The current move to 'desktop as a service' (DaaS) has simply compounded the problem. The DaaS RFP, as issued recently by DIA, insists that all vendors on the final panel have to support Microsoft platforms. This ensures continuing the platform lockin with its associated risks, lost opportunities and excessive costs."
Beyond the desktop, Microsoft has faced challenges, however.
And all-of-government web platform tender was won by Wellington company Silverstripe, which develops open source web software. An Apple supplier panel has been appointed for all-of-government business. And Telecom, Vodafone and 2degrees - who all sit on the new all-of-government mobile panel, have favoured a variety of smartphones and tablets; iPhones and iPads in the case of Vodafone's massive NZ Police contract.