OK, I get why many Windows users haven’t moved from XP to Windows 7. For one thing, while you can upgrade some XP PCs to Windows 7, chances are you really need to buy a new PC. And, whether you’re just buying a new PC for yourself or a few thousand for your company, cash is tight these days. But, why the heck is anyone still running XP SP2!?
I was shocked to see that, according to security risk and compliance management provider Qualys, that half of its corporate customers were still using Windows XP SP2. Again, I get why people don’t do major upgrades. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” right?
But, I really didn’t see why people are sticking with XP SP2 this long. Windows XP SP3 was and is still, as far as I’m concerned, the best Windows desktop ever. Yes, that’s me, Mr. Linux saying nice things about Windows. Get over it. I’m not so much in favor of Linux per se as I am in favor of what works well, even if it does come from Microsoft.
I found XP SP3 to be faster, more stable, and to work better with my peripherals and Windows software than any other version of Windows. I recommended that all Windows users — including the poor devils running Vista — upgrade to XP SP3 as soon as possible.
Now, whether people paid attention to me or not, I still assumed that by 2010, two-years after Windows XP SP3 had arrived, that 90% of XP users, and 99% of XP business users, would have upgraded to XP SP3. I mean, it was better in every way and it was free to boot? What was there not to like?
Inertia is a powerful force, though, and so here we are with 50% of all business users still stuck on XP SP2. It looks like unless XP SP2 users get a kick in the rump, they’re not going to upgrade. Well, too bad for them, because Microsoft is about to give them that kick.
On July 13, Microsoft is going to stop issuing patches for XP SP2. This isn’t just the minor fixes; this includes the big security patches you’re used to installing every Patch Tuesday. After July 13th, if you want to try to keep Windows XP SP2 secure, you’re out of luck. You won’t be able to do it.
It’s not just the base XP SP2 operating system by the way. Microsoft also isn’t going to release patches for IE (Internet Explorer) 6, IE7 or IE8 patches after July 13. I think it’s a perfectly safe prediction to say that if you’re still running XP SP2 in August, your systems are almost certainly going to be infested with botnets, rootkits, and other malware.
In short, it’s time to get off the pot and download and install Windows XP SP3. It’s not that hard. If you don’t, well, don’t blame me if you sit down some morning soon and find your computer spilling your credit card numbers to J. Random Hacker or cheerfully sending Viagra spam to all your friends.
A version of Why are you still running Windows XP SP2!? first appeared in ComputerWorld.