Coming next season on The Walking Dead: Windows XP

The operating system proves unkillable as analysts say Microsoft needs to keep patching it past the end of support.

Microsoft has said, repeatedly, that come April 8, 2014, it will end all support for Windows XP Service Pack 3. Support for SP2 and earlier have already ended. That means no bug fixes, no exploit fixes and no phone support. And in less than 500 days, that will be it for SP3 as well.

And yet there are people who say Microsoft should wait.

Computerworld quotes software vendors and analysts alike saying Microsoft should give the 11-year-old operating system another reprieve. The annoying part is that they have a pretty good point.

Michael Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, pointed out that if all the XP systems still out there are suddenly hit with a major exploit that would allow for a massive denial-of-service attack, then "It is not just harming Windows XP users, it is bringing the entire Internet to its knees."

This is not unprecedented, as I have written previously. SP 2, long since out of support, is now a haven for malware since Microsoft is not fixing it. There's a lot of SP2 out there, reasoned one malware specialist, because with SP 3, Microsoft really tightened up authentication of pirated copies, so a lot of people with pirated SP 2 never upgraded.

This is a different scenario, though. We know through analytics from firms like Net Applications that Windows XP has about 40% market share, still. One thing that hasn't been sliced and diced is the location of all of these PCs.

I would venture to bet many of those are in smaller and poorer nations, so it could be that they will run until they die. I recognize this is not always the case. In 2011, I visited a Toyota dealership here in Orange County and it was still using Windows 2000 computers internally. When I questioned them about this, their defense was that the computers weren't on the Internet.

Regardless, I think this may be one time where Microsoft has to take a stand and put a stake in the ground. Look at all of the aspects of Windows 8 that showed Microsoft would not bend: removing the Start button code, not allowing booting into Explorer, limiting the free version of Visual Studio 2012 to make only Metro/Modern apps, and so on.

All of the executives quoted in the Computerworld article raise good points, but if XP is constantly supported it will never die. Plus, as its share shrinks, those will be the most stubborn portions of the population, owned by people who simply will not upgrade until their PC up and dies. I wouldn't be surprised if many of those computers don't have any anti-malware software on them in the first place.

So I vote thumbs down and hope Microsoft sticks to the schedule.

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