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Vulnerabilities / Threats

10/15/2013
05:29 PM
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Windows XP Holdouts Hold On

New data shows nearly half of XP machines still alive and well among 1 million machines managed by one vendor

The clock is ticking on Windows XP: Next April, Microsoft will cease support and patching for the aging operating system. But plenty of XP systems are still alive and running out there as the clock runs down.

Case in point: Nearly half of the 1 million machines managed by enterprise mobility management firm Fiberlink for its clients are XP systems.

Chuck Brown, director of product management at Fiberlink, says it's like the XP SP2 countdown back in 2010. "When XP SP2 went out of date, we went through this" with the move to XP SP3, Brown says. "We're seeing this happen again" with XP, he says.

Some 45 percent of the 1 million laptops and desktops managed by Fiberlink for its enterprise customers are still running XP. "I think what they are really doing is trying to squeeze as much as they can from a financial perspective. I think this stems back to the financial crisis of 2008," he says. "People are keeping what they had in place as long as they could until they were forced to make a move."

The good news is that Brown says he's seeing customers moving off of XP each day. But so far, most are going to Windows 7, not the newer Windows 8 or 8.1. "They are going to Windows 7 for different reasons, but from the enterprise perspective, there's no retraining really needed" versus with Windows 8, he says, plus some legacy internal applications rely on versions of Internet Explorer prior to IE 11, which currently runs on Windows 8 and 8.1.

Users who stick with XP beyond Microsoft's support deadline risk getting hit with new malware, without any patches.

But Brown says he expects most of the XP machines to be updated by the time the April deadline rolls around. Somewhere around 3 percent XP stragglers will remain among his company's customers, he says. "It will then take them another three months, I'll bet, to migrate. But we'll keep telling them [to]," he says.

Despite initial pushback on Windows 8, the new OS features some attractive security functions, such as BitLocker encryption for locking down hard drives.

"What I like with [Windows 8 and 8.1] is that Microsoft is providing an API set, something they really never did before," Brown says. "Now they actually provide an API set that will kick off VPNs, and you'll be able to create WiFi profiles and start to do blacklisting and whitelisting."

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
10/16/2013 | 9:05:30 PM
re: Windows XP Holdouts Hold On
I'm curious to see how many continue to hold out once Microsoft cuts off support and patching.
BGREENE292
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BGREENE292,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/22/2013 | 10:33:59 AM
re: Windows XP Holdouts Hold On
How much reliance does anyone place on Microsoft patching-- when Microsoft does get around to it? Very few users-- business or home-- rely on Microsoft patches as their prime defense.

Matters have worsened to the point, relatively untalented attackers use the same vulnerability repeatedly, with signature variations, and still get results.

As for the end of Microsoft support, most of us cannot recall the last time we called Microsoft for support. Ironically, most contacts from my office with Microsoft have been about DRM controls going off when I replace even a hard drive.
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