A lot can change in sixteen years. On this day, way back in 2001, Apple’s renowned iPod was merely a one-month-old, Kylie Minogue’s ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ was sitting at Number One in the charts, and we were even still using dial-up Internet to access the Web. While in that time most of us have moved on from that which was once popular, the use of Windows XP is still widespread among many organisations.
Today, the operating system still holds a sizeable portion of the worldwide desktop operating system market – just over 6 per cent, coming in at the fourth most popular overall – despite Windows ending support back in April 2014. However, just earlier this year, the WannaCry ransomware attack on the NHS proved how vulnerable Windows XP can leave users; the virus spread throughout hundreds of thousands of computers, many of which were still running the aging XP. As cyber attacks become more advanced and without the protection of frequent security patches, the outlook looks challenging still if businesses choose to run unsupported platforms – essentially, it is only a matter of time before a problem arises.
Mat Clothier, CEO, CTO and Founder of software firm Cloudhouse, explains why so many organisations - including the recently reported Greater Manchester Police - still rely so heavily on the operating system and are reluctant to upgrade: “It may seem surprising that even though the IT world has evolved so greatly, so many companies haven’t moved on from XP. The problem is that many organisations depend on custom software and applications that aren’t compatible with the latest versions, and upgrading can be hugely complex and costly. Some might not even have the time or technical know-how in order to do so.”
However, as Clothier explains, it’s not all doom and gloom. “While on the surface it may appear easier, cheaper and less time-consuming to stick with the old rather than bring in the new, there is now a middle ground - container compatibility software that can package up old applications and bring them across to newer and supported systems. This technology enables organisations to benefit from greater security, performance and all-round peace of mind without the constraint of complete rewrites.”
So, as advised by Microsoft and industry experts alike, the guidance given is to always run the most up-to-date and secure platforms to avoid major issues. Anniversaries like these serve as an important reminder that the IT basics, like keeping computers current, should be top of mind for any organisation who values the stability and secureness of their data.