The end is near. For the Windows XP operating system, that is, whose Microsoft support ends Tuesday -- and companies and several governments are scrambling to find cover.
The XPocalpyse, as it is being called by some, means that security updates and tech support from the tech giant will end for XP as well as for Office 2003 and Exchange 2003, and no new patches will be released. "PCs running Windows XP after April 8, 2014, should not be considered to be protected," the company warns on its Windows support site.
Some large organizations are making special deals with Microsoft. According to the news agency ANP, the Dutch government has signed a deal with the company worth millions of euros to continue XP support through January. The national government is expecting to upgrade as many as 40,000 government workers still using XP to an unspecified new OS by that time. About 40 percent of local Dutch governmental councils are also using the 13-year-old OS, but the Microsoft deal is only for the national government.
The UK government has signed a similar deal, paying 5.5 million euros for 12 months of support for XP, Office 2003 and Exchange 2003. That deal covers the national and local government, charities, schools and the country's National Health Service. The national government told news media that OS upgrades are expected to be completed for most of the XP users by April of next year.
But it's not just two European governments. An estimated 95 percent of all the ATM machines in the world run XP, and some banks are also signing deals for extended support from Microsoft.
JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, and Wells Fargo have reportedly struck deals to continue security support for their ATMs, although the details -- including service terms and what OS will succeed XP for these machines -- are not clear.
However, the 200,000+ independently run ATMs found in convenience stores or malls run the older Windows CE OS, which is still supported.
'If It Ain't Broke…'
Some analysts estimate that XP is still the OS on as many as 30 percent of the consumer and business Windows-using PCs on the planet. Laura DiDio, principal analyst with Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, told us that her company's surveys find that 72 percent of small- to mid-size businesses with fewer than 300 employees are still running XP and, for mid-sized and large companies, it's about 52 percent.
She pointed out that "OSes typically last for three to four years, and Microsoft has been very upfront about what they were intending to do."
Part of the resistance to letting go of XP, she noted, has been "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," and part is aversion to Windows 8, with its emphasis on touch-screen interfaces. Although updates to 8.1 are modifying that emphasis, DiDio said, many businesses are still skittish about the investment in time, money and training that Windows 8 might entail -- and are preferring Windows 7 if they choose to upgrade within the Microsoft family.