back to article Windows XP is finally DEAD, right? Er, not quite. Here's what to do if you're stuck with it

Today will be like no other day because it’s the last Patch Tuesday for Windows XP. Yet there's good news if you're still using XP. For starters, you're not alone. Thirteen years after it was released, Windows XP remains the world’s second most popular PC operating system. It's running on 27.69 per cent of consumer machines, …

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  1. Michael Habel Silver badge

    This comment is totall Bullsh--!

    The first big problem was the hardware. Be it PCs, kiosks, ATMs or anything else running Windows XP, such hardware probably won’t be able to run Windows 7 – and certainly not Windows 8.

    W(ho)TF is still running Windows XP @ SP3 Levels with >2001 Hardware? You can't do that anymore then you could by running Windows 7 or 8 on such Hardware.

    XP has has a good life, and a long One too so There probably wasn't ever a Driver that wasn't made to run on it. That's why its the Go-to Windows!

    But, back on topic. I must have burned my way though no less then 3 or 4 different setups in those 13 Years. And I no longer even have that AMD Slot-A System that I started out with back then anymore. So yeah no FUD to be found here at all...

    If you should find yourself with a Windows XP Machine w/o SP3 installed, 'cause it can't run such Ancient Hardware... Then you have other issues.

    1. Magnus_Pym

      Re: This comment is totall Bullsh--!

      Poor you, you do seem to burn through hardware. I don't think that is the norm. Yes stuff breaks but there is a lot of ancient hardware still running throughout the world.

      I'd also say that most of the vulnerabilities yet to be found have been there since day one. So just because the white hatters don't know about them does not mean we are more vulnerable than before. Just more aware.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This comment is totall Bullsh--!

      People who are still using XP aren't all running it on 13 year old PCs.

      New PCs may have still had XP on it five years ago. And there's nothing physically wrong with them, either.

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: This comment is totall Bullsh--!

        "New PCs may have still had XP on it five years ago. And there's nothing physically wrong with them, either."

        Like just about all the netbooks. I've tried Windows 7 on a netbook, useless. If I decide to move from XP it will be something like Mint not Win7 or 8.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This comment is totall Bullsh--!

        'People who are still using XP aren't all running it on 13 year old PCs.'

        We were supplied with shiny new HP boxes last year with Win7 and XP as a (side|down)grade.

        Dual Core 2.0Ghz, 4Gb ram, all hardware fully supported in XP..so we're good for another 13 years then..

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This comment is totall Bullsh--!

      W(ho)TF is still running Windows XP @ SP3 Levels with >2001 Hardware? You can't do that anymore then you could by running Windows 7 or 8 on such Hardware

      Considering the above mentioned included ATMs and Kiosks well. That right there is the problem. Those are embedded systems generally. Where I work runs on embedded XP, Some of our hardware includes the state of the art pentium 3! Why haven't we upgraded sooner? We can't. Our hardware is old, the drivers for much of it were never upgraded to windows 7. (We aren't a small company either) We've worked around it and are still in the process of upgrading (fix one issue, two more take its place)

      So what about ATMs and Kiosks? Those things are on even older hardware than we are running embedded chips etc, if we're having trouble updating with (relatively) off the shelf parts, what hope do they have?

      1. Test Man

        Re: This comment is totall Bullsh--!

        Oh those hardware running with embedded chips? Not running XP - running XP embedded, which is STILL supported for free.

        In any case, there WILL be patches for XP after today, but you'll have to pay for the Microsoft staff to fix the specific problem now.

        1. the spectacularly refined chap

          Re: This comment is totall Bullsh--!

          Oh those hardware running with embedded chips? Not running XP - running XP embedded, which is STILL supported for free.

          Don't believe it - there is an awful lot of oddball hardware out there doing things you'd never think of in a thousand years, and they could be running pretty much anything. One of my colleagues has an oscilloscope on his bench still running Windows 98. It's 15 years old so ancient by IT standards but only a bit past mid-life by instrumentation standards. Of course it's moved down from high-end to mid-range in that time (i.e. from the super-duper one-per-department scope to a personal bench scope) but it'll probably have another five years within the company and probably another decade at least in the hands of some amateur when it gets moved on. There's plenty of other examples, in fact I believe the later models of that very scope were indeed XP Pro powered.

          It would have been £10,000-£15,000 scope new, probably even today it would be £1500-£2000 to replace - it's not the kind of thing you do on a whim without clear benefits.

    4. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: This comment is totall Bullsh--!

      I'm running XP on a netbook. Never saw a need to upgrade as XP does what I want, and more specifically certain hardware does not have drivers for newer versions of Windows. I plan to keep with XP until the machine reaches the end of its life, and if situations force my hand, I'll drop a light Unix distro on it. My hardware works with XP only, so there's no specific reason to stick with MS on a replacement...

    5. RobHib
      Flame

      @Michael Habel -- Re: This comment is totall Bullsh--!

      1. New hardware (mobos etc.) is available for XP, but you won't find it in gamer establishments, try industrial control instead.

      2. In many cases there is NO upgrade for XP. Vista, Win 7 and Win 8 are not equivalents to XP in many installations--either in the ergonomic (UI) sense, or program compatibility--too many things break. And thus many kiosks will be around forever (in IT-years anyway).

      3. Quintessentially, Microsoft has NO replacement for XP (as was XP for W2K, NT, W98, W95 etc.). MS went off on a tangent and left millions high and dry. Many of them have chosen to ignore upgrading altogether--as there is nothing to upgrade to!! (Without expense and moving away from MS altogether.)

      4. You, and even El Reg have missed the point this time which is what happens when a monopoly fucks up. It's time governments et al said enough is enough, we need to contract 'second-source' suppliers to build a compatible Win32/64 API OS, (this is what the military has done for hundreds of years, and it's done it on the basis that for critical systems you cannot just have one supplier--in case he goes belly-up at a critical time--as MS has done over Vista, W7 & W8).

      5. Today, the world depends on the Win32/64 API, it's now a critical infrastructure. Thus, it makes sense for a worldwide conglomerate of governments etc. to force the issue and contract for an OS to built by whoever will take it on--a consortium perhaps, possibly even open systems. Ultimately, it'd be cheaper in the long run than just leaving the solution to MS to just dream up what it thinks the market needs (and to get it wrong so many times).

      6. I cannot believe there are so many users and commentards who are still prepared to lick MS's arse after it has done so much damage to you and everybody else! Why and for what reason would you want to do that?

      As I said, even here El Reg has also missed the fundamental issue of why we have a problem in the first place.

      It's time to get really aggressive with Microsoft, if users have to play really dirty in the process then they're only meeting Microsoft on its own level.

      1. Col_Panek

        Re: @Michael Habel -- This comment is totall Bullsh--!

        The way to get aggressive with Microsoft is to refuse to buy or use their products. And don't buy a new computer just because you need it to run a current version of Windows.

  2. Steve Evans
    Coffee/keyboard

    You owe me a new keyboard!

    HMRC have 85,000 PC's running XP?

    How many people have they got sitting in front of computers in there? XP is a desktop OS after all, not a server. That a not insignificant %age of the entire UK work force!

    Talk about bloated government body.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 85000 XP!

      found this for you:

      Working for HMRC - HM Revenue & Customs - GOV.UK

      https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/about/recruitment

      HM Revenue & Customs homepage. Working for HMRC. With 70,000 staff, who collectively help bring in £474 billion in tax revenues, from more than 45 million individuals and 4.8 million businesses, ...

      1. Brenda McViking

        Re: 85000 XP!

        Yet I hear the "tax simplification" team for 2013 was made up of just 6 HMRC employees.

        No wonder the countries finances are in such a state.

        1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: 85000 XP!

          You'd almost think that it was a deliberate act by a group of individuals who benefit from less tax enforcement that pushed through austerity measures that involve cutting the workforce that collects the government incomes.

          IIRC there are roles for assessing tax evasion/avoidance that where paid 30k and produced the best part of a million quid a year in extra revenue. So a role that gives the government an extra 900k a year (I'll allow silly money for pension and employment costs) from the 35 billion a year that is lost would seem to be something you'd hire more off in a recession. Instead they get their numbers cut.

          But then I've got odd notions of the country being governed for the benefit of the masses, rather than for the few. UK plc has gotten a lot meaner to it's serfs in the last few years, I'm glad I now live in NL plc, where at least the bilderburgers in charge here make sure the serfs have cheap booze, fags and high quality ganja to keep us pacified.

  3. Oldgroaner

    Hang on long enough and the problem will go away -- who's writing malware for Win 3.11 nowadays?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or even AV software...

      You might be onto something

    2. Annihilator

      In all seriousness, how big a threat is it? Bearing in mind that NT4 had a significant userbase remaining when it was declared out of support (and still does), along with Win 98 on the consumer side of things.

      Are there any stats on threats that exist on NT4 etc?

      1. qunow

        When NT4 support no longer provided, how many people still using it? Nowaday xp is used by 27% PCs globally, and more than 67% of all PC in China, i.e. more than 300 million PCs in China alone are still running XP, and there're still some new PC with xp installed (even if those PC might be ivy bridge) selling all over China. Is that the case of NT4?

        1. Annihilator

          "When NT4 support no longer provided, how many people still using it?"

          Gartner estimated that 20% of servers and 10% of desktops were running NT4 worldwide after it went out of support. Even today, there are blue chip firms that still have an NT4 estate.

          http://www.serverwatch.com/news/article.php/3453131/Windows-NT-40-Support-Ends-Tomorrow.htm

          Equally, when Windows 9x went out of support, it was estimate that approx 50-70 million devices were still running the OS. Even today, Windows 98 is still on 0.1% of devices.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How do you install Windows 3.1 onto a PC these days? The hardware is too modern for it that I'm sure it doesn't load? I know Windows 98 needed a patch to run on PCs over 768MB memory otherwise it BSOD's on bootup.

      1. Pookietoo
        Linux

        Re: How do you install Windows 3.1 onto a PC these days?

        3.1 in DOSEMU if you want, or 3.11 in Virtualbox. Simples.

  4. Spoonsinger

    Re :- Lock down and look sharp, it's the hackers' game now"

    Errrm, it always was the "hacker's" game. MS didn't provide anything during their "support" period which wasn't retrospective to something found by someone else - and then only grudgingly.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Huh? What's this all about? XP?

    Oh sod that, I aint upgrading to that fisher price crap.

  6. Dazzz

    XP WILL be blamed

    It will be interesting to see in the coming months how many times XP gets pointed to as the weak point in any hacks or data grabs. I would imagine there will be a fair few Freedom Of Information requests about the subject too...

  7. wyatt

    Anyone else getting bored of stories about XP updates stopping?

    1. malle-herbert Silver badge
      Mushroom

      "Anyone else getting bored of stories about XP updates stopping?"

      YES !

      1. SineWave242

        Re: "Anyone else getting bored of stories about XP updates stopping?"

        Indeed. As if the whole slew of hackers will jump on the opportunity to just hack those computers with XP installed. It's a pile of rubbish. Hackers will always write viruses for the OSes that are most popular, so that would be Windows 7 at the time. There is a big chance a virus written for the W7 will not even work on XP. However, I think it's about the right time for people to consider to move away from M$ OSes to Linux so they wouldn't have to worry about a slew of things. First of all being shelving the money for the OS. Linux is free to use. Updates, Linux has 0-day updates concerning security. Applications? You have OpenOffice or LibreOffice and VLC and and and everything you need on Linux. It's time. Having Windows doesn't bring you any benefits at all. If you're not a masochist, that is.

        1. Tom 64

          Re: "Anyone else getting bored of stories about XP updates stopping?"

          @SineWave242

          Linux patch management is dependent on the distro, and your argument for everyone moving to linux is flawed by your own rationale; if everyone moves to linux, that will be the hackers next target.

          Heavens then we will have rabid microsoft fanboys extolling the virtues of their safehaven operating system.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Anyone else getting bored of stories about XP updates stopping?"

            Linux is already a target for hackers, since that is what a large chunk of the worlds servers run on... And that is where whey would want to target the hacks, not the desktop, since these servers are what hold the sensitive stuff...

          2. Col_Panek

            Re: "Anyone else getting bored of stories about XP updates stopping?"

            With so much running on Linux now (stock exchanges, supercomputers, websites, routers) why isn't there a continuous flow of news about viruses attacking them?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Anyone else getting bored of stories about XP updates stopping?"

          > Linux is free to use.

          Only if your time is of no value.

          >Updates, Linux has 0-day updates concerning security.

          But it has many, many more of them - released randomly from different sources / repositories.

          >You have OpenOffice or LibreOffice

          That might do on a personal level, but it simply doesn't cut it for business.

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Anyone else getting bored of stories about XP updates stopping?

      And equally bored of recommendations to use some version of Linux instead.

  8. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    How to avoid getting soaked in a storm

    Stand under a tree. When the tree gets wet through and starts dripping on you, go stand under another tree.

    1. mrjobby

      Re: How to avoid getting soaked in a storm

      Really don't know what you're driving at with this but surely if both tress have been in the storm for roughly the same time then they will both get wet through at roughly the same time? Therefore you'd be walking out from under one dripping tree just to stand under another.

      Doesn't sound like you're avoiding getting soaked!

      1. wowfood

        Re: How to avoid getting soaked in a storm

        Maybe a better version would be "stand under a dead tree and get wet, realize tree is dead and move over to one which is dying"

    2. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      Re: How to avoid getting soaked in a storm

      "Stand under a tree. And then die when it gets struck by lightning." FTFY

  9. Joe Drunk
    Linux

    For home users

    that are still running XP and can't/won't upgrade to a more recent Windows version throw Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on there. I just did that for someone who used her XP laptop for facebook, Youtube, email, occasional word processing, solitaire (probably about 90% of home users with an XP PC) and she is happy that she hasn't lost anything in functionality AND will still be receiving system and security updates after April 8. She is also less prone to drive-by installs, trojans and the like because those mostly target Windows/MAC. Yes, she has grown to like Unity.

    1. Kracula
      WTF?

      Re: For home users

      "someone who used her XP laptop for facebook, Youtube, email, occasional word processing, solitaire"

      I do agree that public officials use their workstations mostly for facebook, Youtube and Solitaire, but any decent hacker will know how to tell the difference.

      But hey, I love your Linux advertising spin on this one ;)

    2. SineWave242

      Re: For home users

      I don't get the number of downvotes to your post. I've done similarly for a few of my mates' laptops and they don't get a difference. I've been using Linux Mint with Mate GUI. Since I discovered it I've got in love with it so much. Flawless. I wouldn't pay even 15$ for any Windows any more.

  10. SumDood

    The half-dozen or so people I know running XP on home computers haven't applied patches for years / ever. Nor have they been hacked.

    Not saying it can't happen. But you can also walk down a road and get hit by a plant pot falling from a second story windowsill.

    Interesting that none of the scary articles seem to include any risk analysis / probabilities. But I guess most journalists find the unknown unknowns of statistics even more scary than the known unknowns of dire MS warnings.

    Don't panic Mr. Mainwaring! Don't panic!

    1. Richard 22
      Stop

      "The half-dozen or so people I know running XP on home computers haven't applied patches for years / ever. Nor have they been hacked."

      Interested to know how you know they haven't been hacked? The type of people who don't apply security updates probably aren't likely to be the best at determining if silent keyloggers etc are installed on their machine, or their machine is being used as a spambot etc. We're well past the days of viruses making themselves known to the user by printing messages and randomly deleting files.

      1. Steven Raith

        They'll be the people blaming the local petrol station for their credit card being used to make fraudulent purchases no doubt. Not realising that they had a keylogger running which the AV software wasn't able to see running because that relied on an OS patch to flag up the process traits to it...

        Welcome to Kafka IT!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "keylogger running which the AV software wasn't able to see"

          Oh please do you really believe that todays AVG free, Avira, Avast or any other will work different on Win XP than on Win 8? The same for Flashplayer 13 (released today BTW), Java 7 or a modern browser like Mozilla Firefox or Chrome?

          Most of these articles are FUD.

          As others have mentioned. A lot of home users have never upgraded, patched or done anything else. They only updated their AV, FLashplayer, java and started to abandon IE and favor Mozilla Firefox 28 or Chrome. And a most haven't got much problems. Sure, they got called by scammers pretending to be Microsoft employees. But that can happen as well with Windows 8 than with Win XP users.

          1. Steven Raith

            *facepalm*

            An unpatched systems AV has less resources to work with - a perfect example is the XP SP2 Security Centre, which monitors AV software for unexpected behaviour by allowing the AV software to report it's status to the system at a low level, which wasn't previously part of the OS. Your AV software might report that it's tipping along happily - or a very clever infection might put a fake AV systray item in startup - but the SP2 Security Centre will notice that your AV softwares realtime scanner isn't running and will flag it.

            To go back to the Security Centre example, you not updated to SP2? Then you'll never know there's a keylogger running and that your AV software is dead until your computer craps itself, or your credit card is used to buy 700kg of chocolate milk in Botswana. Post SP2 systems will immediately flag up a lack of AV software operation and you can deal with the problem before it becomes a catastrophe - IE before you put your credit card details into a website and have them scraped.

            There have been patches to allow AV software greater access to protected memory space, running system level processes, to allow pre-userland scanning, etc. None of this stuff was safely possible before the patches added the functionality and API hooks because that is the entire function of a patch.

            Plenty of these patches that come out to cover 'security updates' deal with patching exactly these sorts of issues and enabling extra functionality or APIs to the AV vendors - sometimes in response to known infections, sometimes in response to researchers informing MS of flaws they've found, but the simple fact is that running an unpatched system is asking for trouble - no matter what AV software you have.

            Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it's FUD.

      2. keithpeter
        Childcatcher

        Overheard

        I'm surprised at the thumbs down for Richard 22.

        Overheard in the large central cafe of one of our major seats of learning (cough - Russell Group Midlands - cough) last week. Two estates supervisory types talking about car insurance and premiums, or rather one chap holding forth and the other one looking like he wished his coffee had Valium in it.

        First chap closes a 10 minute tirade with something close to "...and they all use the same database. I know they do. When you type your address into the form, the rest of the details just appear - that proves it must be getting the details from the same master database"

        Yup, completely innocent of autofill settings in the Web browser, no idea of the realities of latency in the network connection and the need for this suposed secret master car insurance database to have enough fields filled in to actually identify his record. That is exactly the kind of user who is going to get spannered.

        Tescos should be handing out Linux/XFCE CD-Roms with shedloads of non-free drivers and codecs. Microsoft should be doing a cut down Windows 8 basic edition with no ability to install new software and ads or something, anything!

    2. Cucumber C Face
      Meh

      >none of the scary articles seem to include any risk analysis / probabilities.<

      Likewise these ATM machines are (I hope) unlikely to be sat facing the interwebs unfirewalled with a luser surfing porn using IE6 on an administrator account on them. Chances are many of these machines could remain unmolested for all eternity.

  11. tirk
    Pirate

    Bit torrent is your friend.

    I'm sure the patches that MS are providing to their corporate paying customers will soon start appearing on TPB!! So nothing to worry about, eh??

    (Yes, this is a joke, but I bet something purporting to be these will appear, and I further bet large numbers of numpties will download them too).

  12. Anna Logg

    Won't some of this stuff be running on XP Embedded?

    "That “somewhere” can mean anything that’s not a PC – so passenger information systems, kiosks and airline ticketing systems.

    And let's not forget ATMs: two-thirds of the country’s 60,000 cash machines are also, as of today, still trucking along on Windows XP."

    Support for XP Embedded doesn't end until 2016, presumably a good chunk of the above will be running on that.

    FWIW I was sitting in the pub the other evening, guy comes in and takes the Quiz Machine to bits (I assume he was invited...), in order to replace the monitor. When rebooted it showed a Win 2K Pro splash screen :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Won't some of this stuff be running on XP Embedded?

      "FWIW I was sitting in the pub the other evening, guy comes in and takes the Quiz Machine to bits (I assume he was invited...), in order to replace the monitor. When rebooted it showed a Win 2K Pro splash screen :-)"

      Similar circumstances I saw Windows98 about six months ago ....

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: Won't some of this stuff be running on XP Embedded?

        Similar circumstances I saw Windows98 about six months ago ....

        I have, in the same timeframe, seen the OS/2 "Please finish your registration" screen (the one with the elephant) displayed on some control system

    2. MrXavia

      Re: Won't some of this stuff be running on XP Embedded?

      "Support for XP Embedded doesn't end until 2016"

      True, but how often do you see an ATM be replaced?

      Although I always laugh when I see a crashed embedded device with the BSOD or worse, a desktop.... I have even seen a windows desktop on an ATM before...

  13. BongoJoe

    Here's what to do if you're stuck with it

    What I am stuck with is is Microsoft. As far as I am concerned XP is the most productive operating system that they have produced to date.

    Every operating system since then has borked something which makes an upgrade a decision making process. Because XP was so popular lots of stuff was written on it which won't work on other and later versions.

    A number of these products are Microsoft's own products which were used to create other products. This means that for a good number of people there is LESS than no need to move. A lot of people would move off XP if the later versions of stuff which were developed on XP platforms would work on later versions of the operating system.

    If Microsoft couldn't get their own Visual Studio to work seamlessly on their new operating system then what hope has the Real World where we're relying on code written by others?

    For a good number of people who are left with XP it's not because they are too tight, too thick or too lazy to move it's a case that Microsoft has failed to create a 100% compatible upgrade path so a good number of this supposed 27% of all machines will be staying on XP because nothing else works.

    A good example with all of this is the Internet Explorer 'update' process. For those using Visual Studio (and there are tens of lots of millions of lines of perfectly good code out there working in C++ and VB which needs to be supported still) they find that if they accidentally move to IE 10 or 11 then their projects are borked. Yes, changing the browser buggers up the development environment.

    This is like like buying a new and latest television set for the living room and then finding out that because it's been installed on the wall the woodturning lathes in the workshop can no longer function.

    Have a large project written in a Visual Studio language? Well, if it's much larger than a small app then it's not going to load, or if it does it may not compile properly on Windows 7 and above. This right here forces people NOT to upgrade their machines.

    It is this sort of problem that Microsoft need to address because they can make inroads into that 27% of XP machines because I am sure that a good number of people would migrate tomorrow if they had total confidence that everything would run.

    It's not as if Microsoft aren't aware of these issues: they've been ignoring my eMails on this subject for months.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here's what to do if you're stuck with it

      As commented on another thread, this isn't the worst of the lot. The real worst of the lot is EOL'd hardware--old, customized, but very expensive hardware that works on nothing newer than XP. IOW, any thought of a migration inevitably raises existential fears because to upgrade the OS would require replacing that machine. I think a prominent example given was a CnC machine driven by a custom ISA board; replacing the machine would cost the firm more than their gross revenues for the next five years.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Here's what to do if you're stuck with it

        > I think a prominent example given was a CnC machine driven by a custom ISA board;

        Exactly. I know one one-man-band machine shop that had a 2nd hand flat-bed machine with a controller running OS/2. It was fixed it a couple of times by clearing the log files that had filled up the hard disk. Last year the OS/2 controller completely failed so the owner had to get a replacement controller (for $20,000 or so) and it runs XP.

      2. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        Re: Here's what to do if you're stuck with it

        For your specific example, the simplest approach is "disconnect from outside world." Isolate the machine and import customer design files on very-carefully-screened-by-up-to-date-PCs USB sticks. Oh, and don't forget to introduce Fear of $Deity for anyone who uses a NOT-carefully-screened USB device. That, plus a good backup regimen and you're set. There's no reason why examples of THIS type can't run XP in perfect safety until the hardware fails.

        1. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: Here's what to do if you're stuck with it

          Disable autorun on the machine and only use it to run the CNC software. I doubt there will be any viruses that specifically target that software, and if there are, mainstrwam virus scanners won't catch them anyway.

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Here's what to do if you're stuck with it

          The problem ISN'T fear of malware and such. THAT can be alleviated with a backup regimen.

          The REAL problem is EOL'd hardware support. The example I gave noted that XP was the last Microsoft OS to support the ISA. The firm isn't worried about a bug; they're worried the ISA controller gives up the ghost since it can no longer be replaced. If that board goes, the entire CnC (which is a specialist machine full of proprietary trade secrets; therefore, nothing about it is public) would have to be replaced just because of that one controller. Because no machine beyond XP supports ISA, and since the controller is proprietary, it can't be virtualized, so just replacing the computer is not an option.

          Thing is, IT lifecycles and industrial machine lifecycles differ by scale of about 10:1. Industrial machines typically run for decades, but the computers and software that control them aren't designed to work that long--their industry moves too fast to allow for building something with a 30-year working life. Another thing is that these industrial machines are expensive. It's their long working lives that make the investments worth it since the cost can be amortized over that long period. Short-lived controller computers are rapidly becoming weak links in industry.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Private and Public

    So many XP.ssssss...waste of public funds and personal information held by private companies in danger...

  15. Arachnoid

    haven't applied patches for years / ever. Nor have they been hacked.

    And they know this how, rats are by their very nature virtually undetectable?

    Seriously i wouldn't be surprised if a "large security hole" suddenly appears very soon and is massively publicized by an allegedly MS sponsored media outlet.

  16. Tyrion
    Unhappy

    SAD

    > Gartner estimates the cost of upgrading a Windows XP machine at between $1,205 and $2,069, for a 10,000-PC environment.

    Really? And that's just upgrading? Someone's making a fortune here.

    As far as upgrading hardware, I see they never considered installing GNU/Linux on existing hardware, saving the taxpayer a fortune in the process. Absolutely not, let's all just keep perpetuating the Micro$haft monopoly and depending on a single vendor for everything. Nothing could go wrong there could it?

    1. Spoonsinger

      Re: SAD

      $1,205 and $2,069 is between £720 & £1200 per box, (real money). I suspect this is a bit high in the context of a 10,000 PC environment if they are basically being used as dumb terminals. However for a smaller setup it's not that much out of the way. Basically you'd quote that, then the client says "I can buy a new machine for cheaper than that", then you say "Yes you can", then they say "Can you transfer our applications and data across to it?", you say no problem it will take "this" much time - depending on setup. The off shot of which with new PC & transfer of data and applications across, it is probably going to be between £720 & £1200 - probably more because they'll want some old application which they really need and don't want the newer version because it looks weird.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SAD

      Linux is not an option if the firm is using custom stuff: custom software, you might be able to virtualize, but hardware? Many firms are praying that custom board hangs on, as it's literally the only thing keeping their firm alive.

  17. Barely awake
    Windows

    Blissful Ignorance

    Goodbye old friend! It is time for you to finally take a trip over that hill.

    All your old buddies will be there 3.1, ME, 2000 and Bob. Yes Bob!

    We have Windows 8.1 to look after us now.

    :'(

  18. JP19

    "As of now, if a new vulnerability is written"

    WTF?

    You mean a new exploit of a vulnerability Microsoft wrote.

    I really don't know how Microsoft can get away with this (but then I never bother reading all the small print). They supplied defective product and should be liable for rectifying the defects forever, regardless of how long it took to discover them.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: "As of now, if a new vulnerability is written"

      It's all there in the EULA:

      "We are never at fault, software is provided 'as is' with no guarantee of usability.

      Any problems you encounter are your own damn fault!

      But... we retain full control over the software and will hit you with lawyer-geddeon if you so much as try to sniff around the code without onerous and expensive payments to us.

      Summation: Any problems you encounter are your own damn fault, but we'll happily swap them out for others at exorbitant expense to you."

      Now mind you, that's paraphrased a bit as I've condensed it down from the 200+ pages it occupies as full text.

      1. tirk

        Re: "As of now, if a new vulnerability is written"

        It's all there in the EULA:

        Since when did a contract trump the law? I didn't think you could sign away your consumer rights, let alone wave them away by opening a CD, or clicking on a dialog box.

        (However I suspect Microsoft's lawyers are bigger and better paid than "IANAL" me.)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why the predetermined assumption you're migrating to Windows 7?

    Odd that the author touches on the 80:20 rule, but doesn't follow it to the logical conclusion, that perhaps 80% of the estate within an organisation could well find switching platform to Linux would provide them with all the functionality they require to do their jobs, while saving a boatload of money in new hardware/license costs.

    If there's going to be the disruption of a mass migration -anyway-, take the opportunity to jump ship to a free software alternative. OpenOffice, a browser, a mail client, and thats most non-knowledge-worker's IT requirements sorted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why the predetermined assumption you're migrating to Windows 7?

      The costs of supporting linux on a desktop usually exceed the cost of buying office. (impending downvotes ahoy!)

      Basically, even small teams use stuff in Outlook like delegation. This allows a boss to give limited access to his calendar/emails to his PA/team. There is yet to be a piece of open source software that is stable and offers equivalent functionality to even Outlook 2000 and thus given the computer cost including software is quite literally a hundredth of the cost employing the staff member it's unlikely that we will see any change in *nix use in business in the near future.

      I have said it for years, when there is something out there with the same functionality as outlook 2003 then Microsofts dominance on the business desktop is going to die a death with surprising rapidity. Note that once upon a time you got outlook licenses with the exchange CAL's. That died when Microsoft realised that it meant that you could stick outlook on computers and then use openoffice for the rest of the officesuite, hence you now actually have to buy the bundle.

      Businesses do not run on windows. They generally couldn't care less which OS they have. They do care about having the tools to do the job and are quite willing to pay for them.

      1. keithpeter
        Windows

        Re: Why the predetermined assumption you're migrating to Windows 7?

        "There is yet to be a piece of open source software that is stable and offers equivalent functionality to even Outlook 2000"

        @AC: This is a very valid point. I use my familiar applications in Portable Apps form on a USB stick at work (LibreOffice/GIMP/Inkscape/R and even Audacity). The thing I have to use is Outlook for appointments and email, and SharePoint for certain reporting functions. Apart from that, I could use a drop in Linux client easily.

      2. Anonymous Bullard

        Re: Why the predetermined assumption you're migrating to Windows 7?

        "They do care about having the tools to do the job and are quite willing to pay for them"

        So how come there's so many people still on XP?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why the predetermined assumption you're migrating to Windows 7?

          "So how come there's so many people still on XP?"

          If you read the last paragraph of my original reply I point out that businesses don't care which OS they are running on. The business does not run on windows NT4, 2k, XP, Vista, 7 (and definitely doesn't run on 8...) That's what it doesn't run on. So what DOES the business run on?

          The business generally runs on one or two industry specific applications (generally some form of CRM/case management) + outlook. Outlook exists for the sole reason that delegation is indispensable for team working.

          The OS the software runs on determines the choice of operating system.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why the predetermined assumption you're migrating to Windows 7?

        There is yet to be a piece of open source software that is stable and offers equivalent functionality to even Outlook 2000

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_(software)

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimbra

        1. keithpeter
          Windows

          Re: Why the predetermined assumption you're migrating to Windows 7?

          @AC

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_(software)

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimbra

          Yes, but a drop in replacement these are not. I use both daily.

  20. ecofeco Silver badge

    Overall, good advice

    Lock it down and lock in down hard.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Overall, good advice

      Yep that is just what HMRC, Home Office, F&C Office et al. did with XP; and will be doing with Win7 etc..

      With systems (and environments) that locked down, the use of an unsupported OS like XP becomes a non-urgent issue.

  21. TP Archie

    Goodbye XP. I'm sure you'll linger long in the hearts (and on the desktops) of many.

    Cue a legion of FUD practitioners and Microsoft lackeys.

  22. southpacificpom
    FAIL

    Zombie

    Is Windows XP now classed as a zombie process or OS?

    1. Pookietoo

      Re: Zombie

      A zombie process is one which has finished running but is still in the process table, while XP is an OS that hasn't finished running, yet its parent is calling it dead - that seems quite the opposite to me.

  23. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    And not a mention of...

    Linux.

  24. The Grump
    Windows

    So sorry...

    I switched from XP to Vista, then Win7 - and I have been sorry that I switched ever since. After XP, MS ripped out the functionality that enabled XP to remember the size and position of every program window I ever used. Vista and Win7 just opens program windows wherever the hell it wants to. Sorry user - FU from Microsoft. So MS can take Win8 and shove it so far up where the sun doesn't shine, that they can taste it. It's almost - ALMOST - enough to make me try Lenux, or Linus - whatever. I just want something that works right. (FYI - regular guy with no programming experience whatsoever. Yeah, ah jes presses da buddons, en da computer does stuff, duh).

  25. SineWave242

    We're running Linux Mint here. No problems, no unnecessary updates or spendings, no problems at all... I don't know what's wrong with people still running these crappy proprietary OSes. Get rid of them, you'll live longer.

    1. Pookietoo
      Facepalm

      On the one hand there are probably plenty of people running XP who would be just as happy running Linux, but on the other there are some things that XP does that Linux still can't manage (and possibly never will). Of course the obvious solution is to just open source XP. Haha.

  26. Mr. Chuck
    Trollface

    No sympathy whatever

    Linux user.

    Libre Office works well enough for my simple requirements.

    All my fave games but one run under wine. Got a vbox for that.

    Couldn't care less. Suffer in yer jocks winslaves.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No sympathy whatever @Mr. Chuck

      Meh, whatever.

  27. PepperdotNet

    I reckon

    If there's an award for most usage of the word "reckoned" in a Reg article, well I reckon that this one has got it.

  28. BongoJoe

    I am told...

    ...that one of the reasons why Microsoft tells us that XP is no longer funky and fit for the modern age is that it's not too mobile.

    My bank manager assures me that he doesn't wish his ATMs to become mobile overnight any time soon.

  29. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    "Installing a new operating system is relatively simple, and we’ve been here before. Windows 98 and Win 2000 did gave way to XP, after all."

    The upgrade path in all those cases usually went along these lines:

    1) Research new version and discover old kit has not enough memory.

    2) Discover memory in old kit no longer manufactured and only sourceable from war-torn Balkan state.

    3) Discover old kit cannot accommodate new version on hard drives fitted.

    4) Discover old kit has (insert one year obsolete bus standard) and large-enough hard drives now can't be obtained reliably.

    5) Discover same basic situation with monitor.

    6) And removable media drives.

    7) Uncover late breaking news that processor in old kit cannot keep up with new version.

    8) Discover new version incompatible with putty-colored tower casing.

    9) Throw hands in air, call Dell and order pallet of new kit with new version pre-loaded.

    10) Discover "optimum system requirements" were grievously understated and new kit runs like snail with gout.

    11) Discover several enterprise critical applications no-longer work owing to unforeseen driver/bus/charcoal-colored tower case issues.

    12) Fire up old kit and attempt to placate irate customers.

    13) Hire Mambo to curse OS vendor from here to Hellenback. Offer bonus if someone's head actually does a "Michael Ironside".

  30. a_mu

    where to get all the Xp patches

    So

    on assumption some one round here is going to need a XP machine in the future for testing something,

    where do I get a disc / download of the last / best patched XP

  31. bigtimehustler

    "They haven’t buried their heads in the sand. Well, mostly they haven't." - Yes they have, the reason they are overshooting the deadline is because they buried their heads in the sand for too long in the first place and didn't leave themselves enough time to do the migration in time. Proper planning and not burying their heads would have saved them the Microsoft mitigation costs they are paying now.

  32. cobo04

    Office 2003 - nah - office 97!

    I have a bit of kit that has a plug in, the kit works under win8 no issue, the plug in - well that only links to PowerPoint 97. won't work on any other level. Seems it was a third party plug in and the third party no longer exist, so ye olde plug in is still compiled into the newer OS drivers.

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