Not big, not clever: Some businesses just can't let go of Windows XP

Not big, not clever: Some businesses just can't let go of Windows XP

Summary: One in five small firms are still using Microsoft's antique operating system despite the security risks.

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Almost one in five small and medium businesses worldwide is still using Windows XP months after Microsoft ended support for the operating system.

According to research by antivirus company Bitdefender covering the UK, Germany, Spain and the US, 18 percent of small businesses are still clinging to XP even though Microsoft has said it will provide no more security updates. As of early April, Microsoft stopped issuing patches or bug fixes (with one notable exception) for XP, which is now 12 years old.

Among those companies that had finally said goodbye to XP, more than half (53 percent) upgraded to Windows 7 Professional. Only a small percentage of SMBs surveyed are now using other Windows versions such as 7 Home Premium and Windows 8.1 Pro, the research found.

According to figures from Net Applications, Windows XP still accounts for around 25 percent of PCs connecting to the web. The distribution of Windows XP will vary according to environment — for example, home PC users are the least likely to have upgraded to a new OS because of the cost and their general lack of awareness of the potential risks of continuing to run XP, while enterprise customers driven by compliance and security concerns have mostly either migrated away already or mitigated the risk by signing up for extended support.

However , small businesses fall between the two. It's likely they are aware of the risks of using XP, but lack the funds and skills to move away from the OS as fast as they should.

Some may even secretly hope that Microsoft will swoop in and rescue them if anything bad does happen. Microsoft did actually backtrack on its pledge to issue no further updates once when it provided a fix for an Internet Explorer zero-day vulnerability to Windows XP users as well, despite the flaw being uncovered after its end-of-support deadline. But companies shouldn't expect it to happen again, according to Bitdefender, which noted "swift migration from XP is a must for all users".

There has been speculation that hackers have been storing up XP vulnerabilities to use once Microsoft has ended support. While there's no evidence of that so far, the research shows the scale of the potential victims out there. Bitdefender said the most-targeted company in the three-month analysis was a web marketing business that had to deal with almost 800 million pieces of malware attack.

Read more on Windows XP

Topics: SMBs, Microsoft, Security, Windows

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146 comments
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  • Not big, not clever

    A clever human achieves more on a regular calculator than a stupid one on Win8.

    Exercise your own brains instead of utilizing stupidifying shortcuts through "smart" computers

    A lease on others intellectual capacity always drags your own lower, with the risk of ending up as a "remotely controlled human device"
    X15meshman
    • LOL, great comment "remotely controlled human device"

      Precise description.

      I've got 2 hosed Windows 7 computers, the 2nd one has UEFI. I scanned it using CLAMTK and it found over 2,000 infections, with a large number of system files infected. Needless to say, it won't start up now.

      Windows is less than worthless. It's a time and energy sucking black hole of infections.

      Mint 17 now installs with the UEFI enabled. I'm seriously considering offering Linux and refusing to work on Windows at all, except for backing up and transferring customer data files.
      Joe.Smetona
      • I find that unlikely . . .

        "I scanned it using CLAMTK and it found over 2,000 infections, with a large number of system files infected."

        Unless you're talking about tracking cookies or duplicates of the same infection, I find that pretty unlikely. Either that, or somebody is intentionally visiting the dark side of the Internet a lot.

        Or maybe somebody turned off their protections, such as DEP and UAC?

        Or maybe CLAMTK is giving you false alarms. A lot of AV products these days use heuristics, which can flag things that aren't viruses.

        Maybe CLAMTK is a poor scanner in general - it was not really designed for Windows, and there's very little documentation on it.

        Or, maybe you're exaggerating or lying. Distinctly a possibility, considering how anti-Windows you are.

        I've been virus free for years on virtually every version of Windows, and my parents have been virus free for a while as well. It would really take effort to get over 2000 distinct infections onto a Windows 7 machine, so I suspect there is more to the story you aren't telling us.
        CobraA1
        • What a

          Shill with no life...
          Stilbe
          • Oh Stilbe, I thought that was Shill for a moment

            nt
            thekman58
          • A shill by any other name is shill a shill..

            :)
            jessepollard
        • Or maybe CobraA1

          You will eventually tire of doing all you can to make apologies for Microsoft and laying the blame at someone else's door....

          I find that unlikely too...
          The Central Scrutinizer
          • LOL

            LOL.

            Microsoft isn't perfect and holy, but the claim of 2,000 is pretty suspicious. How is being suspicious of what appears to be an exaggerated claim an "apology?"
            CobraA1
          • Becuase it's what you always seem to do....

            I too have often seen Windows PC's infected with thousands of listed items in the virus checker log report - and that using Symantec EP or AVG..
            As you say many of them were doubtless duplicates and cookies etc but even so its a fact that if your AV gets damaged or broken by one virus then the Windows system itself is a vulnerable as a baby in a bear pit for anything else that hits it.

            Also doesn't alter the fact that Joe.Smetona doesn't deserve aspersions being cast that he is a liar for simply stating what he has seen..... It seems that it is fine for ZDNet to sensationalise things like minor issues with iOS lockscreen a few days back, but anybody dares to point out a deficiency in an MS product and they are either liars or ABM'ers or both.

            But of course that is what you MS Evangelists will do, protect the sacred temple of MS at all costs, lay the blame off, discredit others, or just simply attempt to deflect attention by saying Google and Android and Apple have the same vulnerabilities cos we all know 2 wrongs make a right....

            I had a quiet bet to myself earlier that this article would bring out all the MS shills and fanboys and sure enough over the next few pages up pop the usual little crew all trying to tell others how bad it is that they still run XP and what grave danger they are placing themselves in, all beating the drum for MS to try and increase sales of the poorly performing Win8.. Even Loverock, who's been strangely quiet lately manages to put in a guest appearance later. Guess he just managed to get done in time - fixing his computer after the last IE update hosed it for him...
            The Central Scrutinizer
          • re:

            "but even so its a fact that if your AV gets damaged or broken by one virus then the Windows system itself is a vulnerable as a baby in a bear pit for anything else that hits it."

            Not any more than any other OS.

            "Also doesn't alter the fact that Joe.Smetona doesn't deserve aspersions being cast that he is a liar for simply stating what he has seen...."

            As he said, this isn't his first time here. He's known to find any and every excuse and opportunity to bash Windows.

            As any statistician will tell you - one or two data points does not a complete, unbiased picture make. It may be that you're simply people who other people come to for help, which means they come to you when they have problem, which biases the data. Same with Joe, that's another possibility.

            And I only presented it as a possible explanation, not as a matter of fact. I can't reach over the internet and see what's really going on, after all.

            But when he's on - extra red flags come up - as he's said, he's been around these talkbacks for a while. It's not our first meeting.

            "but anybody dares to point out a deficiency in an MS product and they are either liars or ABM'ers or both."

            I'm fine with conceding the Windows has issues, much like everything else. The problem is when people exaggerate its issues to the point of absurdity.

            And now you are exaggerating as well. I own an iPhone for my own personal use - I'm not a "MS Evangelist" or some such nonsense like that. I'm not accusing anybody (except maybe Joe, which is known to be such) as an ABMer.
            CobraA1
        • Both of the above comments are useless...

          I agree, CobraA1, the virus scenario is next to impossible. Along with the comment before that on "dumb" Win 8 users. I've used Windows since v.3, have been infected with exactly 1 (that's ONE) virus. And I used to visit the web's "dark side" back in the day. I guess that, based on the scenario above, I must be either one extremely smart guy or one incredibly lucky guy. But no matter how you slice it, just because the people above are completely clueless, it doesn't mean that everyone else is that way.
          rmazzeo
        • Works fine with Linux, no entries. ...

          ...except 2 or 3 for Google, but they are desired as part of Google services that I use regularly.

          Windows 7 with activated UEFI and current Norton .... full of malware.

          It's great since Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon now installs over activeted UEFI.... Windows problem solved in about 12 minutes. Windows is intolerable to someone used to using Linux Mint.
          Joe.Smetona
      • Free at Last

        End of XP finally spurred us to finally move all our PCs to Linux rather than suffer the switch to W8.
        Been on Mint for several months now & we haven't looked back.
        Any still required Windows software runs smoothly in Virtualbox & no more hassles with validation, constant patches, re-starts, virus scans etc.
        Should have dumped Windows ages ago.
        grump-a1eeb
        • LOL

          The masses are not migrating to Linux. I once had an old PC that I put Linux on that I would loan out to family and friends when their PC was down and I was working on it. They universally hated it. Its actually the same reaction many have with W8 on non-touch devices due to it being so different.

          Linux desktop will be a geek OS for the foreseeable future.
          Rann Xeroxx
          • Depends on where you look.

            A number of cities and governments are moving to Linux.

            Does that count as "masses"?

            And the fact that they hated it is more due to incompetence of the installer... as a poor configuration does no one any good.
            jessepollard
          • Sorry, no

            For one thing "Linux" is a kernel and not an OS and the GNU/X-Windows based stuff that works on many kernels simply does not have application support to be a serious contender.
            Buster Friendly
          • Problems with installing Linux.

            A lot of computers have marginal (worn) hard drives and bad (out of tolerance or dirty) optical drives. They work OK for general use but trying to install any OS is problematic because of defective hardware. If you get errors when installing Linux, it's probably due to marginal hardware.

            If you are using relatively new hardware with adequate memory, a multi- optical drive and SATA drive, you shold not have any errors and it will usually completely install in 12 miniutes or less with no activation or WGA actions. Linux supplies the drivers, so when the install is done the OS is ready to go,

            Here are some of the additional configurations I perform after installing Linux Mint 17.

            *When installing, use AC adapter on Notebook, attach RJ-45 wired internet or configure wireless.

            Install Mint 17 Cinnamon

            Run Update Manager to install latest updates.

            Cinfigure iPv4 and iPv6 DNS to Google Public DNS. 8.8.8.8, 8.8.4.4 for iPv4 and
            2001:4860:4860::8888, 2001:4860:4860::8844 for iPv6 (in Network Connections).
            The best DNS for security and speed. - advanced cacheing--
            see: https://developers.google.com/speed/public-dns/docs/using

            Install Google Chrome, Chromium, Opera
            Install Google Picasa
            Install Google Call and Google Voice (for free phone calls in USA)
            Install K3B CD/DVD burner from Software Manager
            Install Filezilla
            Configure OpenOffice to save in Microsoft Document formats. i.e. .doc, .xls, .ppt
            Install Scribus desktop publishing from Software Manager
            Configure 7-10 workspaces and add Applets (separate desktops)
            Configure firewall.
            Check for updates (OS and installed software will be updated).

            * Add extensions (add-ons) to Chrome, Firefox, Chromium and Opera.

            Ad Block Plus 2.6.3, and Youtube All HTML5 2.1.2 (plays YouTube videos
            in HTML5 instead of flash

            YouTube Video and Audio Downloader 0.3.6.2 -- Firefox --
            Joe.Smetona
      • What a coincidence - I had the same thing happen

        We tested a couple of Linux systems here at the office, and 2.500 infected system files later we shredded the disks, as it was too much a risk even reformatting them.

        Speaking of less than worthless, that describes your posts to a tee, little matter how much you're paid to post them.

        :)
        William.Farrel
        • Obvious lies... there arent 2.5 viruses for Linux

          Or are you saying 2,500.. which also don't exist.
          jessepollard
          • Well spotted!!!

            I was already thinking that wasn't one of Shilliam.Farrel's best attempts - just more of of the usual attempt to deflect attention away by saying that something else also has the same problem.

            But you completely pissed on his fireworks now ;-)
            The Central Scrutinizer