University of Vermont

Information Technology

Microsoft Windows XP Faces April 8, 2014 Deadline

Microsoft Windows XP will no longer be supported after April 8, 2014.
 
As announced in 2008, Microsoft will be discontinuing the current Extended Support period for Windows XP, as well as for Office 2003, on April 8, 2014. Security experts are warning that continued use of Windows XP puts organizations at significantly increased risk of compromise and infection from malware.
 
After April 8, by policy, and perhaps through technical means, computers running Windows XP will not be allowed to use the UVM wired or wireless networks, and Windows XP computers may be prohibited from using some UVM information systems. Windows XP systems, whether UVM's or personally owned, should not be used after April 8 to access University academic or administrative services.  However, our goal should be to avoid this situation whenever possible.
 
For departments with computers running Windows XP, the following courses of action are available:

  • Upgrade the computer to Windows 7 or 8
  • Replace the computer
  • Continue using Windows XP, but isolate the computer from the network and avoid using portable media such as USB drives.


Each option has advantages and disadvantages relating to cost of hardware, software, IT personnel time, and training. For most departments, the first step is to gather information to determine the scope of the problem. This work should be done as soon as possible, to allow more time for implementing any needed changes. Enterprise Technology Services  (ETS) will help with assessment, planning, and system transitions to the extent that resources allow. In fact, ETS has developed a brief set of inventory questions (below) that may help departments get a start on collecting this information.
 
UVM IT personnel will need to work together to protect University systems and data from the increased threats that would come with use of Windows XP after April 8.  Please tell ETS what we might do that would be most helpful to you, and what you see as the opportunities and obstacles to addressing the Windows XP situation in your area. In addition, we would appreciate any figures you can share about the extent of Windows XP use in your area.
 
We have just three months to get it done, but working together, we may be able to develop some shared solutions to address this problem.

A Note for Deans, Directors, Department Chairs and Financial Managers

A separate communication is planned addressing deans, directors, department chairs, and financial managers. 

The Risks of Continued Windows XP Use

The risks of continuing to use Windows XP after April 8 are significant.  Already, Windows XP is infected with malicious software more often than Windows 7 or 8, and Microsoft may cease updates of malware protection for Windows XP on April 8, as well.  As with all operating systems, Windows XP has security flaws and weaknesses, and Microsoft releases security fixes regularly (45 times in a recent 12-month period).  Unfortunately, not all of the flaws will have been found and fixed by April 8, and as additional flaws are discovered, criminals and other miscreants will exploit them -- it will be both easy and profitable.  Microsoft will not provide updates to prevent potential disasters, which can range from crippling the computer to destroying files; from attacking other computers  to breaching highly sensitive information.   

For more information on Windows XP risks 

Microsoft Warns of Permanent Zero-Day Exploits for Windows XP

Microsoft: XP End of Life an Important Security Milestone

Microsoft may end antivirus updates on XP in April

Windows XP Security Apocalypse: Prepare To Be Pwned

Gathering Information and Anticipating Challenges

For most units, the first step will be to try to determine the scale of the problem, if any.  

  • How many Windows XP computers do we have?  
  • How many Windows XP virtual machines (running Windows XP with VMWare, Parallels, Virtual Box, etc.)? 

Then for each computer or virtual machine: 

- Is the hardware capable of running Windows 7 or 8?

  • "As is" 
  • Or with additional memory or a larger hard drive

- Does the computer run essential applications that will only run on Windows XP?  

  • Could it run on Windows 8?
  • Can the application vendor offer an upgrade?
  • Could a different application be used?  
  • At what cost? 

- Does the computer interface with equipment that is compatible only with "legacy" hardware?  

  • This may bear re-confirming with your vendor, as their requirements may have changed since the deployment of such instruments. 
  • Are interface adapters available to allow use of the equipment with a newer computer?

- If Windows XP cannot be avoided, will it serve its purpose with no network connectivity?  How will data be safely exchanged with the computer? What guidance, education, and support will the person using the computer need in moving to a newer operating system? 

 

Option

Advantages

Disadvantages

Upgrade the computer to Windows 7 or 8

• No or low cost for hardware and software

 

• UVM Campus Agreement covers cost of Windows upgrade, 

 

• Small investments in memory may allow older computers to run Windows 7 or 8

• May need to update applications.

 

• Time investment by client and IT personnel.

Replace the computer 

• Improved productivity.

 

• Moderate cost.

 

• May need to update applications.

 

• Time investment by client and IT personnel.

Stay with Windows XP and isolate the computer from sources of attack by keeping it off the network and avoiding portable media such as USB drives

• No cost.

• May no longer serve intended purpose. 

 

Microsoft and others offer guidance on moving on from Windows XP.  Clearly, the option of staying with Windows XP, without network access, is the least desirable in most situations, but it may be necessary in a small number of cases where applications cannot be upgraded, or where specific hardware requirements force the use of a computer that can't run a system other than Windows XP.  Our goal should be to avoid this situation whenever possible.  

For more information on Upgrade Options

Windows Compatibility Center

Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 Support Ends April 8th, 2014

 

Office 2003

Microsoft support for Office 2003 also ends on April 8, 2014.  UVM departments are eligible to upgrade Office at no charge.  Continuing to run Office 2003 will expose systems -- even those running newer versions of Windows -- to security risks.  

For more information on Office 2003 

Microsoft Enrollment for Education Solutions at the University of Vermont

 

Additional Resources

Microsoft ends Windows XP Professional support today, April 14th, 2009

Microsoft Expands Commitment to Customer Satisfaction With Enhanced Support Life-Cycle Policy for Business and Developer Products

Microsoft Announces Extended Support for Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Media Center Edition

365 Days Remaining Until XP End Of Support. The Countdown Begins

Microsoft's Windows XP Countdown Clock

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