With just 28 working days left for the end of support for Windows XP, Microsoft on Tuesday raised the alarm bells saying 16 per cent of large enterprises were still stuck on the old operating system. April 8 is the last day of support for what is arguably Microsoft’s most popular operating system, first released to manufacturing in August 2001.
Microsoft India Managing Director Karan Bajwa called it an alarming situation as 35 per cent of banking and financial services institutions and a similar number of state institutions were still on Windows XP. “Usually companies give about five years of support for a tech product. We generally give five plus five. But Windows XP has already got over 12 years of support,” he said, adding that it was the most supported product ever.
As Microsoft started migrating users to Windows 7 since it was launched in 2009, over 84 per cent of the 4 million-odd PCs in large enterprises have switched off the old OS. “We have seen a spike in migration in the last 18 months during which about 25 per cent of users made the switch over,” added Amrish Goyal, General Manager – Windows Business Group, Microsoft India. Of those left to switch, are 17 per cent users in manufacturing and 16 per cent in the communication industries.
On the risks of continuing with XP, Bajwa said that companies will be exposed to vulnerabilities as well as huge costs for maintenance and support. “The estimated maintenance cost after XP is retired will be as high as $300 per year,” he said. These devices have six times more chance of getting infected now, he added. Goyal said that while Microsoft will provide virus support for a year, they will not be releasing patches for the vulnerabilities these viruses are trying to exploit. For the record, there have been 30 security bulletins released for Windows OS in the last year alone.
Goyal added that staying with XP would mean that the companies, especially the banks won’t be future-ready and won’t be able to use many new technologies like biometrics. However, he clarified that there are no companies that are completely on XP and have a mix of Windows operating systems. Incidentally, Bajwa said that a third of the remaining companies will not have to even pay for the upgrade as they already have devices that shipped with Windows 7 or 8 but were downgraded to make them compatible with the rest of the company.
Goyal told the Financial Express that while the remaining companies might not be able to switch over completely by April 8, they could at least have a plan in place. Bajwa added: “The costs of staying on could be huge. Our studies have shown that a single bank could have business loss of Rs 1,100 crore per day if something goes wrong… Move to XP, whatever it takes.”