Though announced as far back as the launch of Windows 7 in 2009, today marks the yearlong countdown to the “end of service” for Windows XP, meaning that Microsoft will fully cut off support for the long standing operating system that was first introduced in 2001.
The end of service is set for April 8, 2014, and on that day, users will stop receiving new security updates, non-security fixes, free or paid assisted support options, as well as online technical updates. The move also applies to both consumers and business users, alike. As late as last year, between 35 to 40 percent of PC users worldwide were still on XP, according to a number of reports and surveys. This is an improvement from the 83 percent mark noted by NetMarketShare in 2008.
Many of these PCs also represent businesses, which leads to a conundrum. No further security updates to patch holes could potentially expose a business’s data and intellectual property to attack. To ease the transition even further, Microsoft will apparently offer custom support for enterprises and businesses beyond the cutoff date, but it will cost a reported $200,000-$500,000 per year to get it. And even then, that price could go up every year afterward in an effort to wean them off of XP and help migrate them over to Windows 7 or 8. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed any of this, however.
If true, the cost would be prohibitive for small and medium-sized businesses anyway, which may mean a spike in migrations over to Windows 7 or 8 over the next 12 months. That is a trend Microsoft has been eager to push, and some analysts have suggested that the software giant would prefer to wean everyone off XP and focus more resources on the last two versions of the operating system.