DEARBORN, Michigan — While Y2K turned out to be a non-event more than 13 years ago, there’s a greater potential for risk, especially among individuals and small businesses, when Microsoft ends its support for Windows XP and Office 2003 in April 2014.
“With Y2K there were years of pre-planning by large corporations that helped to raise awareness among the public-at-large,” said Ryan O’Hara, founder of Sphinx Technology Solutions. “When Microsoft ends its support for Windows XP next year, there’s a potentially much greater risk for small businesses and individuals, because there’s not the same level of awareness, and many smaller companies do not have in-house IT support.”
When Microsoft introduced Windows XP and Office 2003, it committed to 10 years minimum support with ongoing upgrades and security updates. Beginning April 8, 2014, there will be no new security updates, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates. Users will need to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8.
Computers that are not upgraded will be vulnerable to security and compliance risks. According to O’Hara, there may be additional issues for attorneys, CPAs and other professionals who are required to maintain client records and documents that were created in Windows XP.
“The files can be safely retained in newer operating systems but the software required to read those files may not be capable of running on newer operating systems,” said O’Hara. “Businesses with document retention requirements will want to keep an operational copy of Windows XP available to read these files in the event they are needed. Given security risks of keeping an unsecure operating system online, there are additional steps that need to be taken in order to keep other systems safe and secure.”
O’Hara also advised that individuals and businesses may want to consider replacing or upgrading their computers before next April, rather than investing in upgrading older machines with XP that will be out of date within a few months. For example, if the hard drive should die on a computer that is running XP, it doesn’t make sense to spend money to repair it if you will need to upgrade or replace the machine before April 2014.
Other considerations for business and organizations are any specialized software packages that are configured to run only on XP.
“Even with all the pre-planning for Y2K, there were unknowns about what would happen,” added O’Hara. “In this case, what happens next April is a ‘certainty’ if you don’t upgrade from XP.”
For more information and the services Sphinx Technology Solutions provides, visit www.spxtech.com or call 313-920-4622.