As Microsoft Support for XP Expires, Antivirus Vendors Pick Up The Slack

As you might be aware Microsoft support for Windows XP expires today, which means that the company will stop issuing security patches. Around 30 percent of you have ignored all warnings up until now and you’re still using it. Stubborn bunch, aren’t you?

Conventional wisdom suggests that without security patches, business users would be foolish to continue using XP, lest they become victims of viruses and malware that could potentially cripple their businesses.

But is that really the case?

Probably not. Just because Microsoft has stopped shipping patches doesn’t mean the antivirus vendors have stopped supporting XP. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. McAfee, Symantec and Kaspersky shows have all pledged to continue to support XP — for now.

McAfee says it’ll update its software for XP for as long as it’s technically feasible to do so. Symantec says it’ll update for XP for the “foreseeable future” — whatever that means. Kaspersky is more specific saying it will continue to support XP through the current version, as well as two future updates. After that, all bets are off.

The fact is you need to be thinking about transitioning away from XP no matter how attached to XP you might be. Once your antivirus vendor stops supporting it, you’re playing without a net and you don’t want to be doing that.

I realize that companies have years of customizations and links between programs built into XP and I hear you chanting the mantra, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But at some point you have to simply bite the bullet and give in and, at the very least, move to Windows 7.

Given the general disdain for Windows 8 and the Metro-style tile interface, it’s understandable why you don’t want to go there. Your users, who probably know what they know and not much else, would very likely not make a smooth transition to an entirely new way of working that the tile interface would entail.

It’s going to be difficult and very likely expensive enough on the back end to make sure everything works and you have the latest version of compatible software. You’ll also have to spend a fair amount on training your employees on new ways of working, no matter which version of Windows you choose.

You may be able to put off the inevitable for now, but you need to start planning for a future without XP and you need to be doing it soon because two of the antivirus vendors are being vague on the length of their support and one has an end point.

You might have been able to get away with ignoring the warnings until now, but if you have even an ounce of common sense, you realize at this point your good luck is about to run out. And if you’re smart, you need to start the transition very soon — before it really is too late and you’re putting your business at serious risk.

Image by Flickr user Graeme Maclean under a CC BY 2.0 license.