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New software is secure software: The risk of holding on to Windows XP

22 March 2013 | Mark Whittington, General Manager, Worldwide Public Safety and National Security

A hall of fame career is coming to an end.   

No, I’m not talking about another aging athlete calling it quits – I’m talking about Windows XP, the grizzled veteran of the operating system world. XP will retire on April 8, 2014, after more than a decade of service, at which point Microsoft support for the OS will officially end. Many of our public safety and national security customers have successfully relied upon XP for a long time, and many still say it’s serving them well, but today’s cyber security environment makes upgrading an absolute necessity.

XP was built for a different era, and the game has changed. The cyber threat landscape has become infinitely more complex, not to mention dangerous, and Microsoft has used the past decade to integrate the most robust security controls into the newest versions of its software. We spend $9 billion a year on R&D to make our products better, and the latest versions of our solutions reflect that. Public safety and national security organizations need software built for today’s security landscape, and XP no longer falls into that category.

I know what you’re thinking – “I’ve never had a major security breach because of XP” – and we’re very happy to hear that!  However, that track record is a function of the regular updates and security patching that Microsoft support provides to XP users. With that support officially ending on April 8, 2014, XP users will be vulnerable to emerging malware and other security threats, and that’s a risk that governments simply can’t afford to take.

A recent IDC study found that Windows XP leaves organizations exposed to approximately 20 percent more virus and malware attacks per month when compared to Windows 7. In the same study, organizations reported that they spent 82 percent less time managing patches on Windows 7 systems and 90 percent less time mitigating malware. That’s time that should be spent on strategic mission goals, but the biggest benefit of upgrading to Windows 7 is avoiding a major national security breach, which can’t be quantified with dollars and cents. 

We know that public safety and defense organizations are facing an extremely challenging budget climate, and we’re focused on making the move to Windows 7 as easy and cost-effective as possible. We have a talented partner network that specialize in XP migrations, ensuring your mission-critical apps survive and thrive under Windows 7, in addition to a host of online tools that make upgrading painless.  Once the upgrade is complete, organizations will dramatically improve productivity and reduce IT management costs, resulting in an ROI of 130 percent over three years. This quote from the IDC research report sums it up best: “Organizations that continue to retain a Windows XP environment not only are leaving themselves exposed to security risks and support challenges, but also are wasting budget dollars that would be better used in modernizing their IT investments.”

The upfront costs of moving to Windows 7 are dwarfed by the cost-savings public safety organizations will reap from a productivity, efficiency, IT management and security perspective. The warrior had a good run, but it’s time for a younger, stronger, more talented player to lead your team.  

For questions about how to get started on your move from XP to Windows 7, please reach out to us at safetyanddefense@microsoft.com.

Mark Whittington
General Manager, Worldwide Public Safety and National Security

Microsoft on Safety and Defense Blog

About the Author

Mark Whittington | General Manager, Worldwide Public Safety and National Security

Mark brings over 20 years of experience to the Public Safety and National Security arenas. Today, his Microsoft team works with organizations around the world to leverage technology to help better defend nations and protect citizen safety and security. Read more