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Reboot alert! Microsoft retires XP today

- Time to open new Windows as old favourite will run but be at risk from malware

Windows XP operating system (OS) users on laptop or desktop or any other platform, you may be aware that Microsoft won’t support this software from April 8, Tuesday. But many of you may not know what it means in layman terms.

After April 8, the software will run just fine, but Microsoft XP operating system will be open to bugs, viruses, spyware, malware and hacking.

In short, XP users will run systems on their own risk, which is potentially a massive security hazard for businesses, commerce, e-governance and security systems and individuals.

No wonder, the Redmond, Washington-headquartered Microsoft has been urging millions of XP users to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8 for months.

Alternatively, users can opt for proprietary (branded) or open-source ones that are not vendor-locked. Windows apart, Linux software is a popular option that includes Red Hat, Ubuntu 1.2 and others.

Upgrade in Jharkhand would cost anywhere between Rs 6,000 and Rs 10,000. But it is a security investment for the long haul.

Given the rise in cyber crimes in Jharkhand of late, thousands of computers and laptops with XP — in state government offices, PSUs and banks as well as private firms and small cyber cafes — will be vulnerable.

To just give an indication, state information technology (IT) department maintained that number of computers using Windows XP with Microsoft office 2003 could anywhere be above 5,500-6,000.

IT mandarins are aware of the danger. An official at the state chapter, National Informatics Centre (NIC), under the government of India, which takes care of IT activities spoke on the urgency.

“Once Microsoft support for XP ends, systems are at risk. Whoever is using licensed XP OS won’t get any technical support from the software giant, including security updates. So, no upgrade means an open invitation to viruses, loss or theft of data. Hackers wait for such occasions,” he said.

According to State Cyber Defence Research Centre, anti-cyber crime cell of Jharkhand Police, more than 90 per cent computers at public and private establishments in Jharkhand are anyway vulnerable.

The official said they ran random surveys on PSUs, banks, government offices and even private cyber cafes. “We found lack of firewalls. Not to scare anyone, but the situation is such that criminals are constantly trying to hack government establishments and banks even from far-off countries,” he said.

S.V. Sahu, deputy director of state IT department said around a week back they have written to all departments about the Windows transition.

"We have informed them about the end of technical service of XP from Microsoft to all government departments to upgrade their systems to Windows 8,” he said.

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