Windows XP disowned but far from dead

Microsoft formally discontinued support for the Windows XP operating system yesterday. That's bad news for users of the estimated 500 million computers that still run the OS. Unfortunately, it's also bad news for those of us with modern operating systems that might unwittingly connect to machines running XP—which experts liken to a group of unvaccinated children, despite their age.

POLITICO quotes Gary McGraw, chief technology officer of the software security firm Cigital as saying, “It's a matter of herd immunity. If there is a group using old, outdated, unpatched software, it makes us all more vulnerable.”

If you've got Windows XP handling housekeeping chores on an oscilloscope that never connects to the outside world, you might be OK, but be careful about importing setup information or exporting data files.

POLITICO cites figures from Jenni Cullen of web-analytics firm StatCounter as saying that one in five computers in the US and over half of computers in China use XP. Because XP usage is heaviest from Monday through Friday, she suggests that home users have been quicker to upgrade than businesses.

A key problem, writes POLITICO, is that hackers will be able to reverse-engineer patches to Windows 7 or 8, enabling them to write malware that can infect XP, which shares code with its successor OSs.

Read the complete article in POLITICO here.

More in Instrumentation