US firms struggling with Windows XP end of life deadline

Virtualisation and cloud rise still modest

A surprising number of US firms will continue running Windows XP after the end of life (EOL) cut-off this April, a survey for cloud services firm Evolve IP has found. Some planning upgrades will use the cloud and virtualisation to rationalise their PC infrastructure going forward.

Evolve IP looked at end of life issues in 1,070 US firms, for the most part mid-sized businesses that have had trouble giving up their XP habit for a variety of reasons, including money, time, compatibility problems with old software and a lack of technical resources.

It found that 77 percent were still running XP with a surprising 60 percent unable to complete migration before the deadline on 8 April. Even more striking, 45 percent said that between 10 and 30 percent of their machines were running the OS which underscores the scale of the problem they face.

In terms of numbers, 12 percent said that they had 500 or more XP machines that needed upgrading. For 72 percent of respondents, the most popular choice of upgrade was Windows 7, ahead of the maligned Windows 8 on only 13.5 percent. Most anticipated some sort of hardware investment as part of any refresh.

Slightly over a third of migrated Windows 7 or 8 systems will run on physical PCs, although Evolve IP found a lot of interest in cloud and virtualised infrastructure.

Nevertheless, "with such a significant number of machines continuing to run XP after its end of life, and, with a lack of awareness of the impending change in small to mid-sized organisations, ongoing software vulnerability and the potential for downtime or complete data loss will continue to be a concern," said the survey.

Nine percent planned to use a third party to support XP beyond EOL with 78 percent relying on their own internal resources.

The takeaways seem to be that XP will live on long after many assumed it would, aided by Microsoft's willingness to continue updating its branded security clients. The numbers are still surprising; XP is measurably more vulnerable than other Windows operating systems and the fact it will get no OS patches beyond April will only increase this.

Meanwhile, the the rise of coud and virtualisation continues apace but XP is probably not a defining moment; that could be the point at which Windows 7's own EOL arrives on 14 January 2020.

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