Ticking time-bomb: 29pc of computers at risk when Windows XP support ends

5 Mar 2014

With just over a month to go before Microsoft ends support for its Windows XP operating system, figures show it still holds a significant portion of the market and fears of exploitation are rising.

On 8 April, Microsoft will pull the plug on Windows XP and – unless a drastic shift happens in the next few weeks – this will leave 29.3pc of the world’s desktop computer users at risk.

Though Microsoft has warned of XP’s cut-off for years now, recommendations for upgrades appear to have fallen on deaf ears among this segment of the market.

Not only is Windows XP currently Microsoft’s most popular OS worldwide, newer editions saw little growth from January to February this year. In fact, Windows 7’s share actually dropped by 0.18 points to 47.31pc, while both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 saw growth of just 0.1 points to 10.68pc between them, according to figures from NetMarketShare.

Among Irish users, 12-year-old Windows XP’s share actually grew this year. According to figures from Statcounter, Irish installations of XP have risen from 10.5pc to 10.8pc since the start of this year, while Windows 7 and Windows 8 saw a decline.

As it stands, 10.8pc of Irish users are on Windows XP, making it the third-most popular OS behind Windows 7 (51.4pc) and Apple’s OS X (11. 4pc).

Operating a PC with an unsupported OS is a risky game. It leaves users vulnerable to cyberattacks and exploitation by criminals has been deemed inevitable.

To delay the inevitable, the Irish Government this month signed a €3.3m memorandum of understanding with Microsoft to assist with security issues that could impact on four State departments still using the old OS. For the average user, however, there will be no safety net past 8 April.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.