Poll: Many enterprises still on out-of-service XP SP2

Microsoft no longer patches XP SP2 but many companies are still using the OS version

A surprising percentage of organizations are still running desktops with the XP Service Pack 2 OS, which Microsoft said it would no longer patch as of Tuesday this week.

Fiberlink Communications, which sells a service that lets organizations find out what software versions are on their endpoints, surveyed 500,000 computers of their customers and found that nearly 17 percent were running XP SP2. Fiberlink customers include companies such as Pepsi, Volkswagen and Bayer.

"We've been going out to our customers and telling them this for the last couple of months," said Chuck Brown, a product manager for Fiberlink, which publishes tools that help companies to migrate to Windows 7. "You can't make people move. You can only give them the information to make an informed decision."

Fiberlink's survey found that Windows 7 was running on just .33 percent of computers in their survey pool, with 15.14 percent running Vista, 81.57 percent running XP and 2.96 percent running Windows 2000.

Running XP SP2 is likely to become more and more dangerous for enterprises. Microsoft will not issue any more patches, meaning that when vulnerabilities are found, it will be up to those organizations to find a work-around or be vulnerable to hackers.

Microsoft released XP SP3 in May 2008. It was a massive 316MB package of software that included all of the fixes from the first two service packs plus additional ones. That service pack wasn't necessarily easy to install and many organizations appeared to have skipped it, Brown said.

Brown predicted that the announcement of the end of support will prompt companies to move quickly. He said he expects companies will accept a higher level of risk for a couple of months but then migrate to Windows 7. Improving economic conditions and cheaper hardware may also spur companies to take the plunge into Windows 7, Brown said.

Microsoft released the first public beta of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) on Tuesday. Many companies have tended to wait until the first service pack for a new operating is system released before adopting it. When the final version is out, Brown said Windows 7 migrations are likely to increase.

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