End of Windows XP gives life to a new industry

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Microsoft’s decision to end support for its longest running and most successful operating systems (OS), Windows XP, from April 8 will have a big impact globally. The continued use of the old OS will expose enterprises to security risks and vulnerabilities, the technology giant has warned. The new threat has already spawned a new stream of revenue for the scores of small-time vendors in markets such as New Delhi’s Nehru Place that thrive on pirated software. Operating from makeshift shops or even out of a bag full of software CDs, the informal sector in Nehru Place has taken to offering an addition to its existing array of services which includes selling patches for XP. For a paltry sum of Rs 300 – which can be further negotiated down to Rs 200 – furtive figures under a staircase promise to make the dying OS, launched 12 years ago, robust enough to fight virus attacks and deadly malware that can steal sensitive financial data or can expose machines to hacking.

Of course, not everybody is convinced about the risks. Greyhound Research chief Sanchit Vir Gogia called the development “over inflated”. Why does the company’s decision to stop supporting Windows XP coincide with the increase in licensing fee for Windows 7, he asks. He infers, “In a way, the company is forcing a much higher price on consumers.” Unless Microsoft tries to play with the security loopholes, there should not be much trouble as XP is a standard OS. “The full migration will take 12-24 months,” says Gogia, “The concerns are a little overhyped.”

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