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ESET: When one OS ‘closes’, a Window opens...

17 Sep 14

Microsoft’s end of support for Windows XP provides an opportunity for the New Zealand channel, says Sieng Chye, ESET security researcher.

As of April 08, 2014, support and updates for Windows XP ended. As a result, technical assistance for Windows XP, including automatic updates that help protect PCs, is no longer available.

Devices running Windows XP may now be more vulnerable to security risks and malware.

While the current environment poses challenges to channel resellers and MSPs on the security front, it can also provide opportunities for increased revenue streams and consultancy.

According to Microsoft’s own figures, approximately 377,000 PCs in New Zealand were running Windows XP in the run-up to the April deadline.

What’s more, the Opposition Party in New Zealand recently stole headlines by releasing the findings of an Official Information Act request which found that at least 40,000 Government computers remain on XP.

While exact figures of devices in New Zealand still running XP are not available, it’s fair to assume a significant proportion of businesses are still using the operating system.

This presents a great revenue opportunity for the channel - as well as a chance to strengthen customer relationships - as businesses upgrade, migrate or consider their security options.

Many businesses should already be going through the process of working out costs and timelines for an OS upgrade, as well as making an IT inventory and starting to plan their future technology roadmap.

Channel partners and MSPs can offer consultative services to help end-customers make these decisions. There’s also the potential to offer favourable deals to long-standing customers to secure big OS migration deals as a reseller.

In addition, some businesses will choose custom support over an upgrade, as it may be more economically feasible. Most organisations that chose this option are likely to be government departments and very large enterprises with large quantities of legacy machines.

Secure XP!

In cases where customers are deferring an upgrade, one of the main areas where they will need your support is around security.

Windows XP’s success is also its downfall in security terms. Since so many users around the world use, or have used, the system, there is a huge amount of malware targeting the OS.

Without security patches and support, the number of these that get through and affect end-users will definitely increase.

On the other hand, many vendors recognise that their customers need continued support around XP. ESET and its New Zealand distributor, Chillisoft, are committed to supporting Windows XP until at least April 30, 2017.

However, ultimately, the advice to businesses is that while there are temporary measures if you’re still running XP, these should be seen as a bridge to replacement of Windows XP, rather than a long-term solution.

From strictly a security perspective, channel partners should advise customers to move to the latest upgrade or OS, which is currently Windows 8.1.

By Sieng Chye, security researcher, ESET

To find out more, visit the Eset website.

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