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Gartner issues Windows XP and Office 2003 end of life advice

As highlighted recently by Continuity Central, Microsoft will end support for Windows XP and Office 2003 in less than a year, on April 8th, 2014. Gartner has provided advice for organizations needing to migrate from Windows XP and Office 2003 due to the related business continuity and security issues.

Gartner estimates that more than 15 percent of midsize and large enterprises will still have Windows XP running on at least 10 percent of their PCs after Microsoft support ends on that date.

The advice, prepared by Michael Silver and Steve Kleynhans, vice presidents in Gartner’s client computing team, includes:

Understand the risks involved

Not having support means that organizations' PCs could be vulnerable to attack. New vulnerabilities are always being found, and new vulnerabilities that are found in more current products could affect Windows XP and Office 2003. Any unpatched device can be vulnerable to attack. Even if a device is only a private network and has no Internet access, another device, even one running a supported product, can be infected with malware outside the private network and can bring it onto the private network, infecting other devices.

Many applications will no longer be supported while running on Windows XP. Organizations may be on their own to resolve issues and problems, which could result in system downtime.

Assess position

Organizations that are not almost or completely finished migrating off Windows XP and/or Office 2003 should reassess their position by reviewing their project plans and ensuring that they are on target to meet the deadline. Organizations that believe they're unlikely to complete their migration projects by April 2014 should prioritize their applications and users so that they can reduce the risks by addressing critical resources first.

Classify applications and users - work on critical ones first

Most organizations have far too many applications. Organizations where users are administrators typically have one application for every 10 users, with about half of these requiring Windows to run. Gartner defines a critical application (or the user of critical applications) as one where if the application fails or the user can't do his or her job, there could be financial or legal consequences.

Organizations must conduct several analyses on their application portfolios to help safeguard the organization after XP support ends, and in preparation for Windows 7 or 8 migrations. For critical applications that can run on Windows 7, consider moving these users first. If Windows 7 can't be used, prioritize these applications and users so that you can move them as soon as possible.

Additional information on how organizations can prepare for the end of Windows XP and Office 2013 support can be found in the report “Prepare Now for the End of Windows XP and Office 2003 Support in Less Than a Year.” The report can be found on Gartner’s website at http://www.gartner.com/resId=2414615.

•Date: 18th April 2013 • World •Type: Article • Topic: ICT continuity

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