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Twice as many desktops still running Windows XP than Windows 8, 8.1 combined

300 million machines, 10% belonging to government or corporations, and 95% of the world's 2.2 million ATMs are still running Windows XP.

Tick-tock goes the clock, with less than a week remaining until April 8 and the end of XP support. It would seem like crooks should be gearing up for a huge party to celebrate the coming cybercrime spree, since about "300 million" computers are still running Windows XP. When you look at Net Applications' desktop operating system numbers for the last month, you can see that there are still more desktops running Windows XP, 27.69%, than there are desktops running the 11.3% combined total of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Most desktops, or 48.77%, are running Windows 7.

Let's zoom further out to look at more than just desktop operating systems. The Wall Street Journal reported that 10% of the 300 million machines still running Windows XP belong to government and corporations, and many "manage water, electric and sewage treatment plants and ATMs."

Ninety-five percent of the world's 2.2 million ATMs are still running XP; only a third of the banks worldwide will have replaced XP with Windows 7 by the April 8 deadline. Reuters reported that many banks struck deals with Microsoft to continue supporting their ATMs until the machines are upgraded.

"There are certainly large enterprise customers who haven't finished their migrations yet and are purchasing custom support," said a Microsoft spokesman who didn't name names or price tags. But Reuters gave an example of such "custom support" charges - it will cost about $100 million for each of Britain's main banks to extend support and upgrade to a new platform.

Of the 440,000 ATMs in the U.S., many will still be running XP after the April 8 deadline. Bank of America and Citigroup are still using some Windows XP ATM machines. "JPMorgan, which has 19,200 ATMs, will start converting its machines to Windows 7 in July, with a goal of finishing by the end of the year." Well, I guess if you have millions of dollars to blow, then you can pay Microsoft for support and only start converting machines three months after the last security patch was issued to the general public.

Doug Johnson, vice president for risk management policy at the American Bankers Association, said, "One thing in our favor is that XP is battle-hardened. People will benefit from years of fine-tuning of XP...It has been through wars." Conversely, according to Microsoft spokesman Tom Murphy, "If there's one core reason we're retiring the operating systems, it's security issues."

Battle-hardened is one way to look at XP as it has definitely fallen to big guns in wars past, such as when XP vulnerabilities were exploited for Stuxnet or to hack South Korean ATMs. Slightly more than a week ago, Symantec explained how a technically-inclined criminal can hide a mobile phone inside an ATM, keep it charged via USB, and also infect the ATM with a variant of Ploutus malware. Then the crook can control the ATM malware with a text message that makes the machine start spewing cash.

"ATMs and other computers running Windows XP will work fine after the deadline," CNET senior editor Dan Ackerman told CBS This Morning, "but that it serves as a 'warning bell' for everyone." Wowza, waiting for the end of support to serve as a "warning bell" seems pretty whacked. Ackerman stated, "Whether you're a bank or a government agency or a big business or just a consumer, it's time to start thinking about upgrading if you still have one of these old machines laying around."

Resistance is futile even if you are hanging onto Windows XP like the deadline was only just announced. If your PC is so old that the hardware alone can't be upgraded to Windows 7, then try Linux on that box! While it may not look like it when viewing Net Applications' desktop OS market shares, there are more flavors of Linux than all the Windows operating systems added together.

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