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Deadline looms for XP users as Microsoft shuts system support

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“It seems the message has not gotten through to thousands of Irish businesses. But Microsoft is about to shut down support of Windows XP computers. This move, which will affect at least one in 10 Irish companies, will result in PC shutdowns or ultra-pricey emergency support contracts from April 8.” (Independent – 23 January 2014)

“And now the actual cut-off date – April 8 – is approaching. Companies that don’t have Windows 7, Windows 8 or other alternative operating systems after that will have to take out a massively costly premium XP support contract (from Microsoft) or sit back and watch their computers crumble from the inside out.” (Independent – 23 January 2014)

“In general, large companies are well advanced in switching,” said Patrick Ward, head of Windows in Microsoft Ireland. “Where we still see less progress is in the upper end of SMEs, companies which have 250 seats upwards. When you walk into some retailers, you still see point-of-sale machines running XP. We’re still trying to make them aware of the change that is coming.”

“Companies often invest in bespoke software systems designed for specific, non-generic purposes. Take retailers, with their point-of-sale terminals. Some of this software is quite old, even while working perfectly well. Lots of it needs to be changed – or updated – before being compatible with Windows 7 or Windows 8.” (Independent – 23 January 2014)

And that is a straightforward example. Some businesses have far more complicated software set-ups. Irish public sector bodies, for example, often have software systems designed and tweaked just for them. So there is a considerable amount of time and energy required to test this custom software against the new operating system.

The suspicion must be that ‘getting around’ to the process of upgrading all of this machinery was constantly put off while ‘more pressing’ issues were resourced.

That logic could now cost companies – and public bodies – dearly. Microsoft has said that it will offer very expensive support contracts for those who want to continue running XP in the short term. It’s the digital equivalent of getting a loan on credit card interest rates: you’re going to have to pay it back anyway but you’ll pay through the nose for your lack of organisational nous.

But don’t blame Microsoft for this. They warned us time and time again.

Irish Independent

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