Japanese bank beats XP deadline, moves 30,000 terminals to Windows 8

One Japanese banking group has beat Microsoft's April 8 support deadline for Windows XP but millions — potentially hundreds of millions — remain on the ageing OS.

As the April 8 cutoff for Windows XP support looms , millions of PCs still remain on the OS. However, one Japanese banking group has just left that club after completing a massive migration to Windows 8.

According to Microsoft Japan, Resona Holdings, an operator of several banks and other subsidiaries in the country, completed "one of the largest" Windows 8 deployments ever made in Japan, and in doing so beat Microsoft's much talked-of April 8 support deadline for both Windows XP and Office 2003.

The group, which is behind the Saitama Resona Bank, Kinki Osaka Bank and other group companies, completed its two-year migration of some 30,000 Windows XP client terminals this February.

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"We decided to migrate straight to Windows 8, and there was no opposition to the approach of leveraging the latest products to boost efficiency," said Tetsuya Shiratori, executive officer and general manager of Resona Holdings' information technology planning division.

As Microsoft has tried to remind companies when urging them to move off XP, there are cost savings to be had by migrating to newer systems. The catch is that achieving them may also bring with it big, expensive hardware upgrades — in Resona's case, it meant refreshing half of the clients in use. The other half, which had only been in use for two years, will remain in use.

According to Microsoft, the group used desktop virtualisation technology to migrate business applications, and Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager to handle policy design, system configuration and remote automated software installation.

The group now uses the configuration manager and its security suite for PC monitoring, software and patch distribution and security.

Despite Microsoft's several-year campaign to get consumers and business off the popular operating system, hundreds of millions of PCs still run on it.

According to Net Applications, 27 percent of the world’s PCs are still powered by XP. Given Gartner's estimate in 2008 that there were more than one billion PCs in use in worldwide back then, that means there are at least 270 million XP machines still out there. If Gartner's prediction at the time that there would be two billion PCs in use by 2014 came true, that could mean tens or hundreds of millions more XP machines still in the wild.

New research released this week by UK software company AppSense estimated that 77 percent of UK organisations will still be running XP after April 8. Of the companies that still had XP devices on their networks, the old operating system was running on 25 percent of their PC fleets.

Of course, those companies can pay to get extended support for the OS, but the research showed that 68 percent had no such plans.

Besides no more regular monthly Tuesday patches, an additional risk that businesses with XP may face, is a new onslaught of exploits for vulnerabilities that attackers have been sitting on in preparation for Microsoft's support cutoff date — a risk Microsoft acknowledged last year.

Also, hackers will likely look at patched flaws in Vista and later versions of Windows and use them to reverse-engineer the updates in order to see if they also affect XP.

While there has been some concern about the April deadline for ATMs that run Windows, Microsoft's support for the version of XP that runs these machines won't  end until January 2016 .

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