Windows XP End of Microsoft Extended Support

Microsoft is officially ending support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. After this date, Microsoft will not release any security, reliability, or compatibility updates or patches for Windows XP nor will they provide support to solve issues with this twelve-year-old operating system. The remaining users of Windows XP must migrate to a newer and supported version of Windows as soon as possible. This migration may require the purchase of new hardware that is capable of running newer versions of Windows and will at a minimum require the purchase of a Windows operating system upgrade.

Background

Microsoft is officially terminating extended support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014, after a twelve-year life span. For about half of that time, Windows XP was the dominant operating system on Penn’s campus. With input from University constituents, Information Systems & Computing (ISC) officially ended XP support at the end of FY 2012. Some members of the Penn community have continued to use Windows XP after that date, though at a declining rate. As of early March 2014, the University's installed base of Windows XP is slightly under 4.0% of the total of University-affiliated desktops and notebooks, or about 1,600 systems, the majority being desktops.

As of February 2014, approximately 30% of all Windows computers worldwide continue to run Windows XP. Because no further security patches will be developed, these computers will be substantially more vulnerable to security risks and prone to malicious attacks. Also, with such a massive installed base and no future security patches, effective Windows XP exploits will almost certainly come quickly. Since the risk of vulnerability is so high, Windows XP should not remain in use at Penn after the discontinuation of support on April 8th. It is vitally important that Windows XP users not leave themselves in such a tenuous position to help protect both the University’s data and the members of its community.

Recommendations

ISC strongly urges all users of Windows XP to migrate to a newer and supported operating system. Before migrating from Windows XP, users should examine their computer’s technical specifications and determine whether they need to purchase new hardware or if they can effectively upgrade their existing hardware to Windows 7. Microsoft’s Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor is a recommended resource to assist with this determination.

Since many computers still running Windows XP are incapable of running current Windows operating systems for performance or driver reasons, migrating from Windows XP often means a migration to new hardware as well. To help facilitate migrations, the University’s Computer Connection has stocked competitively priced and capable Dell OptiPlex desktops.

More recently purchased hardware may meet the minimum requirements for Windows 7, so an appropriate upgrade to Windows 7 can be installed; Windows 7 upgrades can be purchased from the Computer Connection. Please note that Windows 8.x works best with touch screens and other hardware that rarely shipped with Windows XP systems, so Windows 7 is typically the best choice for an operating system upgrade.

Technical details

Some research equipment may require Windows XP to operate. In this case, support providers should disconnect the relevant systems from PennNet or implement additional security controls such as VLANs and network firewalls, as well as prohibiting likely-targeted software or services (e.g., web browsers). Careful consideration should be given to data transfer solutions in these situations. Additional advice in securing such systems can be obtained by contacting the Provider Desk.

Some Windows XP compatible applications may not be compatible with newer versions of Windows. Windows XP Mode, available in Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise, will allow many of these applications to function as expected.

Resources

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Date Posted: February 6, 2014 Tags: Technical Info, Provider Resource, Windows

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