Windows XP: The zombie OS ‘lives’ on


Two years. That is how long it’s been since Microsoft abandoned its record-beating operating system, Windows XP.

Despite the fact that during all this time there haven’t been any security updates or patches rolled out for its users (with some industrial solutions being the exception), the system still runs on almost every tenth computer worldwide.

On the other hand, this figure is considerably lower, compared to April 8th 2014, when Microsoft pulled off one of the most controversial conclusions of support in computing history.

At that time, about quarter (27.7%) of machines around the globe were still using Windows XP and users weren’t really keen to upgrade. Even a month after the platform’s end of life (EOL), in May 2014, only about 2.4% had moved on to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

“While down to a fraction of its original market share, 8-11% globally and somewhat higher in emerging markets, Windows XP stills remains in use.”

“While down to a fraction of its original market share, 8-11% globally and somewhat higher in emerging markets, Windows XP stills remains in use,” commented ESET’s distinguished researcher Aryeh Goretsky on the current statistics of the old Microsoft system.

If you too are an XP loyalist, there are some good reasons why you should finally say goodbye to your old friend:

  • Without updates, your PC may become vulnerable to all kinds of malicious code that can steal or damage data. Unfortunately, even if you are running an updated and reliable security software, it might not be able to fully protect you because of unreported and therefore unknown vulnerabilities in the system.
  • All those security loopholes don’t only put your devices at risk, but practically everyone out there. According to Mr. Goretsky, computers still running XP “can act as springboards for attacking other systems as well. While it is critical that users protect these unpatched, unsupported systems, it is even more important for them to migrate to newer versions of Windows which are more secure.”
  • Windows has also followed up on its other promise from 2014, ending support for older versions of Internet Explorer by January 2016, including version 6.0 – the web browser included as native with XP.
  • Other software vendors are also slowly abandoning the platform, one of the most prominent examples being Google Chrome. “Such older platforms are missing critical security updates and have greater potential to be infected by viruses and malware,” states the blog post announcing the end of support for XP and other older operating systems.
  • This will probably not be the last vendor to make such a decision and with new zero-day vulnerabilities lurking in the shadows, (CVE Numbering Authorities kept track just until April 2014) the number of companies abandoning XP will only gain pace.

If you are looking for an alternative to the aging Windows XP, read this blog post to help you decide whether you should stay or go to Windows 10. To make an informed decision you can also read Aryeh Goretsky’s whitepaper about Windows 10.

by Ondrej Kubovic, ESET

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