13
Sat, Apr
5 New Articles

Windows XP: So Long, Old Friend

Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

If your IBM i shop still has an enterprise dependency on Windows XP, it's time to stop dragging your feet.

 

Microsoft is standing firm on its decision to end support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. The general level of apathy I've encountered as I discuss this issue with IBM i customers has surprised me. This apathy wouldn't surprise me coming from grandmas and grandpas and even small businesses that don't pay much attention to tech news. But IBM i professionals?

 

How bad can this XP issue really be? The IBM i is 25 years old (much older if you count its substantial S/38 legacy) and is showing few signs of old age. Why should an IBM i professional be worried about a desktop OS that is only 13 years old? If the IBM i is the Keith Richards of our computer world, then Windows XP is hardly even Justin Bieber. Justin has lots of time left, right?

 

As those of us rapidly moving into middle age know, age is just a number. Who cares how old Windows XP is? It's worked for 13 years; it will surely work for another 13. And it probably will, assuming of course that you don't ever connect it to the Internet or any other network. In less than 43 days, Microsoft will stop issuing critical updates for Windows XP. In less than 43 days, Windows XP's potential for exposure to malware, viruses, Trojan horses, rootkits, and other similar maladies will surely increase.

 

Another issue to consider is how your vendors will treat Windows XP. Most ISVs will discontinue targeting and testing on Windows XP; the network exposure is just too great. You'll need to worry about disruption not only with your operating system but also with your vertical applications and how their vendors support them.

 

Assuming you think you can weather the network and vertical application storm, don't forget what the regulators have to say. If your business is governed by regulations such as HIPAA or SOX, keeping Windows XP has the potential to put you in their crosshairs. There is, however, debate as to whether HIPAA mandates the removal of Windows XP. The Health and Human Services Website says its rules don't mandate PC computer operation system requirements, but there are potential exposures if a business doesn't correctly address its use of Windows XP in its written risk analysis.

The Sky Is Falling! Viruses Are Coming!

I know that this all sounds somewhat Chicken Little-esque. The sky is falling! Viruses are coming! Don't open that email! A similar alarm was sounded 14 years ago when we all freaked out over the impending worldwide computer failure that Y2K would surely provide. Alas, on the morning of January 1, 2000, water supplies didn't dry up, elevators didn't tumble from their shafts mid-floor, jets didn't fall out of the sky, and ATM machines kept right on chooglin'. Most of our Y2K fears were overplayed. Will fretting over the demise of Windows XP prove to be as overplayed?

 

The truth is that no one really knows. My bet is that by early summer, there will be some IBM i shops crying the blues over Windows XP-imposed issues. The target is just too big, and the script kiddies are just too clever.

 

Between July 2012 and July 2013, Windows XP was an affected product in 45 Microsoft security bulletins. Potential XP infections cropped up for that year nearly four times a month. In computer security parlance, a zero-day vulnerability refers to a software security breach that is unknown to the vendor. Each of these 45 exposures were zero-day occurrences that Microsoft found and then worked quickly to plug. After April 8, 2014, Microsoft won't plug any more zero-day exposures. After April 8, 2014, every day is zero day for Windows XP. Can you afford to run this risk with your enterprise network?

 

And it's not just IBM i shops facing risk. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, 95% of the ATMs worldwide are powered by Windows XP (and a similar number for the U.S.). Holy cow! The one fragment of good news here is that some ATM companies use Windows XP Embedded, an OEM version of Window XP, and support for it lasts until January 12, 2016.

 

As you can see, if your IBM i shop still has an enterprise dependency on Windows XP, it’s time to stop dragging your feet!

Whatcha Gonna Do?

If your shop hasn't yet addressed the impending demise of Windows XP, you're not likely to be able to fully pull the plug on those devices before April 8, 2014. But here are a few things you can do:

  • Make a migration plan. Now! You might want Windows 7, or you might want Windows 8. Windows 7 end of support is January 13, 2015, and Windows 8 end of support is January 9, 2018. As things stand right now, you get three more years of breathing room with Windows 8. However, that Windows 7 date may change; Microsoft recently announced a Windows 7 extension for its use by OEMs. I think ZDNet's Ed Bott makes a compelling argument for choosing Windows 8 over Windows 7. Many shops will probably do a little of both. Or, hey, maybe this is when you finally move your business to Linux or maybe even the Mac! I am saying this facetiously, but in a world where most of what you need to do is available in a browser, it's not that far-fetched.
  • Don't forget hardware. For many, moving off of Windows XP isn't just an OS move; it's a hardware move as well. Research this carefully. Think critically about your needs for the future and avoid dead-end purchases (especially as it relates to touch computing and how the influence of mobile technologies will influence how our desktop-bound apps operate). Windows 7 and its hardware doesn't do touch, Windows 8 and its hardware does.
  • Sandbox your Windows XP machines as best you can. Most shops are using Windows XP not because they want to, but because they have to. IT budgets have been tight, a smaller IT staff is doing more things, and some shops have (believe it or not!) enterprise dependence on IE 6 or some oddball COM thing that won't work on Windows 7/8. For whatever reason, shops that have to run Windows XP should do all they can, after April 8, to limit its use to mission-critical, can't-get-done-anywhere-else work. If possible, try to limit Windows XP network exposure as well.
  • Keep third-party virus protection current. Microsoft may be abandoning Windows XP soon, but for the virus protection vendors (Kapersky, McAfee/Intel Security, and Norton, for example) Windows XP zero-day exploits are a business opportunity. I've not seen much from these vendors about any special XP offers, but it wouldn't surprise me to see those offers appear.

Do You Feel Lucky? Well, Do You?

No one knows for sure what's going to happen when Windows XP reaches the end of its road. Many XP boxes will surely continue to work with nary an issue. However, some users and network administrators will experience a lot of grief and trouble within a few months of XP's demise. What you do about your Windows XP installations is up to you. But if you intend to have Windows XP in your enterprise after April 8, 2014, I'd ask myself one question, "Do I feel lucky?"

 

ROGER PENCE

Roger Pence is ASNA's Product Evangelist. Roger has been in the IBM i midrange community for so long that Elvis was alive when he started. He has been with ASNA since 2000. Prior to joining ASNA, Roger was a technical editor for NEWS/400 and the author of the 400/Group's AS/400 and Windows newsletter.

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS

LATEST COMMENTS

Support MC Press Online

$0.00 Raised:
$

Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: