Thousands of New Zealanders could face serious computer complications from April 8.
Microsoft is urging New Zealanders still running the 12-year old Windows XP software on their personal computers to take action now and upgrade their systems to avoid exposure to cyber-attacks.
Support for the old operating system ends on April 8, which means those running XP after then will become vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage valuable data.
Windows XP still runs on approximately 300,000 PCs in New Zealand.
Microsoft New Zealand Director of Marketing and Operations Frazer Scott said the dangers of continuing to use XP beyond April 8 should not be underestimated. Users may need to deal with issues such as spyware accessing personal information from the PC including passwords and other private material, constantly being re-directed to malicious websites, sending or receiving spam emails, the loss of valuable data including photos, videos, documents and emails, PCs running slowly or being locked out altogether, banking transactions could be compromised and for businesses, sensitive company data may be exposed, customer and supplier records lost, and finance and tax information could be destroyed.
Mr Scott said while Windows XP was a great operating system for its time, it was not designed to handle the modern-day challenges of increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks, or support functionality we now see as standard such as ubiquitous internet access, the use of tablet PCs and touch screens. In addition, many modern printers and scanners as well as a growing list of new PC software will not run on Windows XP.
"The number of computers still running Windows XP in businesses and homes around the country is alarming, as the risks of contracting harmful viruses and spyware is very real. Windows XP was launched in 2001 and is now four generations behind Microsoft's most modern operating system. XP has been supported by Microsoft for over 12 years, longer than any other Windows version, but the time has come to move on," Mr Scott said.
Retiring a product is a normal part of the product lifecycle. Microsoft first announced that support would end for Windows XP in September 2007, since that time the company has been working with customers and partners to help them migrate existing Windows XP PCs to a modern operating system.
As a final reminder, Windows XP customers will receive an official notification on their desktop screen on March 8 2014 via Windows Update, informing them that support for Windows XP will end on April 8, 2014. This message will appear each month.
For more details on Windows XP end of support and information on how to upgrade go to http://www.microsoft.co.nz/eos