PC users who continue to run the Windows XP operating system on their computers after the system effectively reaches its end of life next April will be seriously compromising their online security, experts from Better-IT have warned.
As from April 8 2014, Microsoft will no longer support Windows XP, leaving PCs which still use it vulnerable to viruses and hackers.
David Nicholls, managing director of Thurmaston-based Better-IT Limited said companies, organisations and home PC users were strongly advised to upgrade their computers well before the April deadline.
He said: “PCs running Windows XP are not going to suddenly self-destruct or become unusable on that date, but as from April 8 there will be no security updates, hotfixes or any other software support from Microsoft.
“There are currently half a billion Windows XP users worldwide so it’s a huge problem for the IT community globally.
“Many of our clients – including businesses and schools – were completely unaware of this development until we alerted them to it.
“We’re now busy assisting them with their upgrade to Windows 7 and would highly recommend that anyone still running XP acts sooner rather than later.”
Although replacing PCs is both expensive and disruptive, businesses and other organisations could face a much bigger financial and operational headache if they ignore the deadline, added Better-IT consultant Dan Gifford.
Dan added: “Allowing for the time needed to install software, upgrading to a new computer system takes about a day. Decent new computers, including software can cost over £500 so if you’re replacing 10 PCs the cost will run into thousands.
“However, if you fail to take action and your systems are hacked or business critical software stops working, the disruption caused could cost thousands per day in lost business and working hours. Add to that the expense of then having to upgrade anyway and possible legal liabilities; replacing your PCs is an investment you can’t afford not to make.”
Microsoft will not be held accountable for any IT security issues arising with XP after April 8 and the banks have already been warned by the Financial Services Authority that fraud or any other issues due to not upgrading will be solely their responsibility.
David added: “The Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox web browsers will continue to support Windows XP for at least a year after the Microsoft deadline. No one should use Internet Explorer with this system after April 8 2014 as Microsoft will no longer be providing patches or anti-virus protection, leaving XP wide open to hacking.”