Print 47 comment(s) - last by LRonaldHubbs.. on Apr 11 at 12:16 PM

If you're willing to pay more and more, Microsoft might extend support a year or two

Ding, dong, Windows XP is dead.  After nearly a decade and a half kicking around as the world's most used operating system, Microsoft announced today that it was finally pulling the plug on support as promised.
But that ultimatum was softened by Microsoft's concession that for a few select enterprise and government users worldwide, it would continue to support the dying platform, IF they paid massive fees.
Some have already committed to that offer.  The UK's government offered up £5.5M ($9.1M USD) in British taxpayer money (on top of existing bulk enterprise licensing fees) to provide one additional year of support on Windows XP.  It is estimated that the deal will cover a couple million machines at UK government agencies.  The UK government claims £20M ($33.2M USD) in taxpayer money will be saved by a more gradual transition away from the aging platform.
The Netherlands government entered into a similar multimillion dollar contract to cover 34,000 to 40,000 aging Windows XP machines.  These deals will cover the costs of providing additional security updates to Windows XP, Office 2003, and Exchange 2003.

Windows XP
Some aren't quite ready to "Turn Off" their beloved Windows XP.

Regardless of how taxpayers and tech observers feel about these deals, one thing's for sure -- they're a win-win for Microsoft.  If users upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8 Microsoft will score licensing fees.  If they don't upgrade they will have to pay a quickly escalating ladder of premium fees, boosting Microsoft's profits.

Estimates of Windows XP's market share vary wildly and are skewed by certain segments that have seen higher upgrade rates -- or alternatively slower progression.

For example recent desktop PC statistics suggest Windows XP to be barely behind Windows 7 with over 40 percent of desktop PCs running it.  Likewise an estimated 95 percent of ATMs are thought to be running XP.

Kurtis Johnson, an "ATM expert" at U.S. ATM-maker Triton tells CNN Money:

This isn't a Y2K thing, where we're expecting the financial system to shut down. But it's fairly serious.

He argues that the high rate of ATM holdouts may leave customers vulnerable if hackers use malware to attack the machines.  The financial service sector has been slower than most to upgrade, not necessarily because it dislikes Windows 7 or Windows 8.  Quite to the contrary, many have expressed enthusiasm for these platforms.  However, they simply were unable to justify the costs, as it can cost between $1,000-3,500 USD to upgrade an ATM given the necessary modifications to the hardware and software and the expert support needed.

Windows XP
ATM makers have until 2016, or in some cases 2019, to get their machines off Windows XP.
[Image Source: funnpoint]

The "problem" of Windows XP on ATMs may be somewhat overstated, as most run Windows XP Embedded, a product which Microsoft plans to provide ongoing support for until 2016.  Additionally, some SKUs of Windows XP Embedded will receive support all the way until 2019, as they were released later.  Hence in the banking sector Microsoft understands the difficulties upgrading and won't be pulling the plug too soon, although there may be some odd exceptions.
Globally it is estimated that 25-30 percent of PCs (including laptops) are running Windows XP.
The shuttering of support is most dangerous for individual consumers and small businesses clinging to Windows XP.  Despite media coverage a significant percentage of both groups don't even realize they're running a dead platform and the danger they may be subjecting themselves and/or their business to, by not upgrading.  
To that end Microsoft has released a tool to let customers know if they're running Windows XP, in case going into the Control Panel proves too technically challenging.  It's also offered up to $100 USD in discounts to customers trading in Windows XP PCs.

Sources: Microsoft [TechNet], The Guardian, Webwereld [translated via Google], MSDN

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XP Patches
By Musafir_86 on 4/9/2014 3:15:31 AM , Rating: 2

-I know an operating system is a complex piece of software, and it's hard to make sure that there's no security bugs at all, but after *more than 12 years of patching*, why can't XP security holes be reduced to nil?

-By excluding unimportant/non-core files, I guess the total critical parts (including the kernel, Windows Explorer, networking stack) are less than 100MB of binary files (EXE, DLL, SYS), right? Or they aren't?

-Also, are *all known* XP vulnerabilities (whether publicly or internally in Microsoft) prior to 8th April 2014 already fully patched?


RE: XP Patches
By BRB29 on 4/9/2014 7:29:10 AM , Rating: 2
Because people won't stop writing these malicious software. Duh!

RE: XP Patches
By Musafir_86 on 4/9/2014 10:38:48 AM , Rating: 2
-Hmm, you got it wrong: the security holes aren't there because those bad people continue to write malware; instead they keep writing malware because the holes are there!


RE: XP Patches
By chripuck on 4/9/2014 8:35:19 AM , Rating: 2
Because it's not that simple. OS's interact with the hardware at a level that most programmers aren't skilled enough to work with. Furthermore the software can work correctly yet still have a vulnerability, so even unit and regression testing can miss them.

Finally, do you know how many lines of code are in Windows XP? 50 million... it'll never be bug free.

RE: XP Patches
By Musafir_86 on 4/9/2014 10:42:48 AM , Rating: 2
-Yes, I understand, but is it still impossible after more than 12 years ? Is that 50 million lines of code for everything in XP? How about just the kernel only?

-If it's like this, the newer Windows releases should be more vulnerable once the support ended because they are far more complex!

RE: XP Patches
By Argon18 on 4/9/2014 11:31:26 AM , Rating: 1
"-Also, are *all known* XP vulnerabilities (whether publicly or internally in Microsoft) prior to 8th April 2014 already fully patched?"

NO! There's more than a few that remain unfixed.

RE: XP Patches
By kattanna on 4/9/2014 11:40:42 AM , Rating: 2
the only issue i have with the whole EOL for XP was MS going in and disabling security essentials. Stop updating, fine, but to actually disable the software was a bit much

RE: XP Patches
By LRonaldHubbs on 4/11/2014 11:56:48 AM , Rating: 2

Microsoft extended Security Essentials support on Windows XP until July 2014. After that date no more software or definition updates will go out, but they aren't disabling the software for current users.

RE: XP Patches
By Argon18 on 4/9/14, Rating: 0
RE: XP Patches
By LRonaldHubbs on 4/11/2014 12:16:56 PM , Rating: 2
Let us know when BSD gets enough market share in any usage category to actually have its name shown in the list (instead of "other"):

Until then I have three words for you:
security through obscurity

RE: XP Patches
By LRonaldHubbs on 4/11/2014 12:02:02 PM , Rating: 2
You're operating on the erroneous assumption that perfectly secure software is something which can be achieved. Pick any OS you want, patch it as many times as you want, and it will still have security holes.

That said, Windows XP has a fundamental problem which is that it was designed at a time when security was not nearly as much of a concern as it is today. Fortunately Microsoft has already released 3 major patches which address this fundamental problem. Those patches are called Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.

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