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266,000 NZ PCs left stranded as Microsoft cuts Windows XP support

UPDATE April 8: Microsoft has today dropped support for its Windows XP software worldwide (although some large organisations willing to pay more will continue to get support until January 2016).

In New Zealand, it estimates 266,000 PCs still run on XP. Of those, approximately 45% or 117,000 are business PCs, Microsoft says.

“While PCs running Windows XP will continue to work, no more security updates or technical support means that consumers and companies still running XP are now vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage valuable information," says Microsoft NZ director of marketing and operations Frazer Scott.

Customers who are unsure of what version of Windows they are using, Microsoft has developed a website amirunningxp.com that can automatically tell if a PC runs Windows XP or a newer version of Windows like Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1. If the site detects Windows XP, it provides guidance on how to upgrade, Mr Scott says.

XP is 12 years old, but has been sold by some PC makers as recently as five years ago, Institute of IT Professionals CEO Paul Matthews notes.

Most PCs running XP will be too slow and old to run the latest version of Windows.  

Mr Matthews says those who're put in the position of having to buy a whole new computer should look at their options beyond Windows 8, too.

"Those with very basic needs, such as just email and internet use, might also find Chromebooks or tablets suitable rather than a whole new desktop or full-strength laptop. Those with more in-depth needs should consider both PC and Mac options," he told NBR.

If you do find yourself stranded on XP, make sure your security software is up today, that you have the most recent version of XP and - especially - that you have working backups of all your files.

See more on the XP debate below.


One month from kill date, Microsoft says 300,000 PCs in NZ still run Windows XP - and face 'very real risks'

March 3: As the kill-date nears for the 12-year-old Windows XP, Microsoft estimates 300,000 PCs in NZ are running on the 13-year-old operating system software.

Of those, around 45% are business PCs, a rep for Microsoft tells NBR.

In its last update, in November last year, the company said 377,000 PCs were still running XP. 

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.

This morning, the company intensified its warnings.

According to Frazer Scott, director of marketing & operations at Microsoft NZ, the dangers of continuing to use XP beyond April 8 2014 are very real, and the risks should not be underestimated.

Mr Scott says those still using Windows XP beyond 8th of April may need to deal with issues such as:

  • Spyware accessing personal information from your PC including passwords and other private material
  • Constantly being re-directed to malicious websites
  • Sending or receiving spam emails
  • The loss of valuable data stored on your PC: photos, videos, documents, emails
  • PCs running slowly or being locked out altogether
  • Banking transactions could be compromised
  • For businesses, sensitive company data may be exposed, customer and supplier records lost, and finance and tax information could be destroyed

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. 

READ ALSO: NZers left stranded on Windows XP next month could have Consumer Guarantees Act case - IITP CEO

Comments and questions
17

2 XP machines will be left on my network by 1 April. Unfortunately the software they run won't work on anything newer and isn't cost effective to upgrade.

Instead they're going to be sitting on their own VLAN with no internet access and 1 pinhole open for data to be pulled down by those who need it.

As a method for isolating XP if it can't be replaced it's hard to improve on.

The continuous updating is to improve the systems. But you are 100% correct we are left with legacy software and hardware, that still does what is should and either costs a fortune to update or to replace. This is how Bill Gates et al made their fortunes - At our cost.

Today all the patches to the poor software that they write is an overhead burden on the system and slows it as the years go by, so again they can enforce their point, no tidy up and upgraded software, but patch on patch, like the roads in Christchurch - by the way they are also XP (expired :) )

Its not as if people were not warned if this years ago. I seems to me no one wants to spend the money to change over.

I moved from XP years ago to Windows 7 best move I have made since 2004 when changed from Windows 98.

7 is a great OS of course if people want a free OS there is always Linux .

This will keep IT people busy for months and the hackers will be having a wonderful time.

Woohoo, time to move to Macs ladies and gentle people.

Mac's are very nice if it's just you, your iPad and your iPhone. But they don't play nice in the enterprise. Even though they have maybe 25% of the problems of a Windows 7 PC, they require 6 x as much effort to fix when they do go wrong.

6 x as much?
Sounds like you need to think about getting an experienced Apple technician to fix it.
Then your computer life will become much easier.
Experience is expensive…

An extra tech to support machines used by a tiny fraction of the company? Who run applications that already run better and faster on Windows machines? Pass. As the Mac's die we replace them with Windows machines. Cheaper, faster, better. Everyone wins.

A 13-year-old PC running Windows XP can be upgraded to the newly released Windows 8. What can a much newer 8-year-old Macintosh be upgraded to? The answer is that it can't.

Running xubuntu linux gave msoft the flick two years ago and never looked back.

Seems like the hight of foolishness for business decision makers - who have now realised their massive liability in the face of MS' unilateral XP end-of-life decision - to renew their relationship with MS. Seems like enabling abusive co-dependence to me. To those decision makers who feel they have no choice... well, that should be telling you something about how messed up the marketplace is. Thankfully, there's a very good alternative to MS whose only shortcoming (I'd call it a strength) is that it doesn't spend $billions (of the monopoly profits *you paid it*) on marketing each year. Linux already leads the computing market in every realm of IT besides the desktop. And it will reduce your long term costs, and increase your agility because it will bring you into line with open standards rather than the current proprietary non-standards which have got most businesses into the painful claustrophobic (locked-in) co-dependent relationship they're in with MS now. Don't repeat your past mistakes. Tell your IT vendor you want to switch to Linux. If they're working for your interests, they'll do it with you.

Don't forget to factor in the vast sums you will be spending on training as your staff transition to one of the 'nix variants. And then the time spent coming to grips with Open Office. The shrieks as they realise that all their Excel spreadsheet macros and formulas have to be re-written from scratch. The replacement of your bespoke applications and databases that only have Windows clients. The whines from your clients that they can't open the files you've sent them. And so forth.

It's not the easy "unicorns and lolly-pops for everyone" switch you make it out to be.

Grumpy, yes, there'll be transition costs, but most of that cost is caused by MS' very conscious past lock-in practices. To reward them for that behaviour is even worse than bearing the cost to move away from it (and I believe you're overstating that significantly - it's no greater than the shift from one version of MS Office to the next, particularly if you figure in changes like "the ribbon" and the shift from one desktop metaphor to another). It's simply poor business practice to make yourself completely dependent on a supplier you don't control.

For all the rhetoric I'm yet to be shown any statistics showing large migration to Linux, especially in the enterprise . Despite what you might think, that is nothing to do with Microsoft anti-"insertgripehere" tactics.

XP was released in 2001.

Computer hardware and software has advanced a lot since then, and really, getting almost 13 years out of an operating system (not to mention the older hardware it is likely on) is not a bad return on investment.

Besides which, companies can continue to run XP machines for longer if they desire, they will just need to take more responsibility for keeping them secure.

Consider this describing the costs likely to be faced by the UK gov't if it makes good on its proposal to require that all documents be saved in the ODF open standard rather than proprietary and pseudo-open standards like those employed by Microsoft in MS Office by default: http://www.computerweekly.com/blogs/editors-blog/2014/02/now-comes-the-acid-test-for-th.html

Nobody relies on microsoft for windows security anyway. Got firewall, and antivirus? Then your just as safe as you are today. XP will be around for years to come, microsoft are just making themselves look like idiots. Theres still a few around people running windows 2000, and windows 98. Totally unaffected by microsoft ending support for those OS's

I agree with Aart. For the number of patches that come out, to fix security flaws in Microsoft OS's, including XP, Vista and Win7. If you wind the clock back a year, prior to the last 12 months of flaw repairs, then you would have been running software that is more at risk, than if you wind the clock forward 12 months from now.

Having said that, if you take upgrade guidance, then you will probably be told to go to Win7 64bit or Win8. Both will present problems with existing software. Why not just upgrade to Windows 7 32bit. Almost everything that you have will continue to run, and if it doesn't, there is more likelihood that the software manufacturer has an upgrade to Windows 7 32 bit, than the 64 bit options. (XP and Win7 32 bit are both 32 bit operating systems).