© Reuters/Shannon Stapleton


Microsoft warns against the continued use of Windows XP

The end of Windows XP is coming ever closer. For this reason, Microsoft and the Austrian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) warn that the operating system should no longer be used after April 8, 2014. Starting on this date, no more security updates will be provided for Windows XP, and the system will become more vulnerable to attacks by cybercriminals every day. The risk is especially great for companies, but sensitive information of private users is also at risk when they continue using Windows XP after support is ended.

Microsoft’s decision to shut the operating system down once and for all in a few months is of course intended to increase sales of newer versions. The company has been struggling with weak sales of Windows 8, which broke new ground in terms of design.

Different times

“We are living in different times,” said Stefen Sennebogen, head of Windows at Microsoft Austria. The way in which we use computers today has changed drastically, he said. Internet usage has increase substantially in the last 13 years, and e-mail traffic alone is ten times higher according to recent statistics. Current systems like Windows 7 and Windows 8 account for these changes and were designed with them in mind, the company said. While components like virus scanners and firewalls must be installed manually under Windows XP, the Windows Defender is included with new computers and offers a basic level of protection.

Rober Schischka from the CERT also warns about the coming change and especially urges companies to update to a newer system. “You have to have the courage to switch,” Schischka said. Outdated software is one of the most popular avenues of attack for cybercriminals.

Expiration model

Support for the popular operating system lasted 13 years, three years longer than usual for Microsoft. The reason for the extended support was that XP is still being used on numerous computers. Current statistics show that the system is still being used on one third of all computers in the world. The system still holds an above-average market share in emerging and developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America.

According to figures of the Statcounter statistics service, roughly 11 percent of computers in Austria that are connected to the Internet were still running Windows XP in August. According to Statcounter, the market leader among operating systems is Windows 7, while Microsoft’s touch-capable system System Windows 8 holds nearly 9 percent, one percent less than Apple’s Mac OSX.