Are you ready for the end of Windows XP support?

There’s now less than one year before Microsoft pulls the plug on Windows XP support. And by the look of it, many companies could be open to serious security risks when it happens. 

Though Microsoft previously extended support for its popular operating system beyond the usual time frame, Windows XP support will finally end on April 8, 2014. That means the OS will no longer get important security updates to patch critical vulnerabilities.

Microsoft used the impending date as an opportunity to urge businesses to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8, which so far has seen sluggish adoption rates.

While many IT managers would probably disagree with the company’s assertion that “NOW is the time to move to a more modern Windows operating system,” the fact is that once Windows XP support ends, businesses could be vulnerable to serious security attacks resulting from unpatched bugs.

What’s next after Windows XP support ends?

But even given that danger, will all businesses upgrade? If they plan to do so, many are taking their time. According to a report from earlier this year, XP was still running on 39% of machines worldwide, putting the nearly 12-year-old OS a close second in market share behind Windows 7 (44%).

Among businesses, a big reason XP is still going strong is that many organizations are worried their legacy applications won’t run on newer operating systems, according to a survey from Avanade UK. Among the 200 IT managers and CIOs surveyed, 80% are concerned that moving on from Windows XP will leave them without support for several critical business applications.

For companies that rely on legacy applications, the best bet may to upgrade to Windows 7 — which has been more favorably received by businesses than Windows 8 — and run those apps in a virtual machine. Microsoft offers Windows XP Mode as an optional free download for the Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions of Windows 7.

Other virtualization software can also be used to emulate a Windows XP machine for cases in which there is no other option available for critical applications.

Does your business plan to run the aging OS after Windows XP support ends? Or do you have an upgrade planned? Let us know in the comments section below.

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