Agencies that haven't moved completely off of Windows XP by the April 2014 deadline could still get some patches, but it will cost them. Is doing nothing an option?
It’s no secret that Windows XP’s days are numbered, but agencies that cannot or will not upgrade by Microsoft’s April 8, 2014 end-of-support deadline won’t have to work entirely without a net, though it will cost them.
Microsoft will continue to issue patches for high-level vulnerabilities through “Custom Support,” a program designed for large organizations. The service will issue patches for critical vulnerabilities and some rated as important, but not for vulnerabilities rated moderate or low, Computerworld reported. It will cost about $200 per device per year, plus extra charges for some of the important patches.
Organizations looking to continue with XP beyond the deadline can sign up for Custom Support through Microsoft’s Premier Support Services program. Alternatively, IT managers can use migration tools like Zinstall to help move their users’ programs and files off XP.
For some time Microsoft has been banging the drum about support ending for the 12-year-old XP and for Office 2003. And while many agencies, organizations and individuals have moved on to Windows 7, or even Windows 8, there are still plenty of XP users worldwide. According to data from Net Applications, as of July, XP still held 37.19 percent of the operating system market, second only to Windows 7’s 44.49. (Windows 8 was third, at 5.4 percent.) In fact, as the deadline gets closer, the rate of people giving up XP has slowed.
Some analysts have speculated that organizations may be trying to stare down Microsoft, hoping that the sheer number of XP users will force the company to extend regular support past the deadline. Gary Schare, president and CEO of Browsium, told Redmond Magazine in April that, "Right now this group has the numbers to back their position, with 600 million Windows XP systems still in use and only a 1 percent drop in the last six months after 5 percent in the prior six months."
Microsoft’s preference, of course, is that users upgrade. The company makes its case for agencies making the move on its Microsoft in Government blog, arguing that agencies will save money in the long run, increase efficiencies and improve security.
Custom Support may extend life for organizations that still have some or all of their systems running XP next April, but it doesn’t seem like a bargain. Depending on the size of an organization, $200 per device could add up to millions, and that’s only for partial support.
Agencies that haven’t completed a transition to Windows 7 or 8 — or, like a growing list of agencies, to the cloud with Office 365 or Google Apps for Government — may have to consider Custom Support as a temporary, if potentially expensive, contingency. The only other option would be to join the ranks of the stubborn 37.19 percent and do nothing and hope it works out.
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