IT specialist warns businesses to plan for the end of Windows XP

By Anita Jaynes on 16 February, 2014

Business IT support specialist Arran Bennett, from Systemagic  is warning companies across the south west to prepare for a big change in the world of PCs.

From April 8, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available from Microsoft and there will no longer be any automatic updates to protect personal PCs or outdated business systems. Microsoft is calling this its ‘End of Life’ scenario for Windows XP.

Businesses which use portable payment card technologies such as hotels, restaurants and some shops could be particularly vulnerable.

There are known to be many businesses relying on old computer systems and software which will become unprotected from viruses or system failures. Windows XP has been supported by Microsoft for more than a decade and the company is now pulling the plug.

Arran Bennett, technical manager at Systemagic, which has offices in Trowbridge and Bath, believes many small to medium-sized businesses will not have considered, or may not even know about these changes.

He said: “The time to act is now. Many businesses, both large and small, have kept old software and technology because that can seem like the easy option.

“However, these once popular technologies are too old, and those who don’t make changes risk the security of their IT systems.

“Those businesses which may be particularly at risk could include hotels, pubs, restaurants, shops – any enterprise which uses a card payment machine.”

Arran says businesses need to know these key things before the April deadline:

*There will be no support for Windows XP, Exchange Server 2003, Small Business Server 2003 and Office 2003.

*Microsoft won’t be issuing any further security fixes leaving businesses at risk of viruses and cyber attacks

*IT systems running any of this software will become non-compliant when it comes to PCI (Payment Card Industry) and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

*Legal issues could arise around the Data Protection Act which requires businesses to use up-to-date software to protect personal information.

*Once the deadline is reached there will be a domino effect from software and hardware vendors as they too drop support for Windows XP.

Arran said: “Your PC or server won’t suddenly stop working. However, the likelihood of catching something nasty will increase no matter how good your antivirus software may be.

“There’s a little more breathing room when it comes to Windows Server 2003 – EOL (End of Life) for all versions has been extended to  July 14 2015. Nevertheless, businesses and individuals who rely on this old technology need to act now. ”