Microsoft announced on Monday that it would end its support for Windows XP from April 8.

“After that date, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates and non-security related fixes for the 12-year-old operating system,” Rakan W. Tarbzoni, head of the Windows Business Group, Microsoft Arabia, said at a press conference held at the Microsoft headquarters in Riyadh on Monday.

Loai Bafaqeeh, public sector lead, Microsoft Arabia was also present during the presentation.

Additionally, Tarbzoni said, the phone and online support for technical assistance or content updates will be terminated. “Users will no longer receive the updates that help protect PCs from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, which may result in downtime and software compatibility issues,” he added.

He pointed out that the service is 13 years old and if the customers want to continue, they should purchase special package from the company.

“Running Windows XP in your environment after the end of the support date may expose your company to an even higher rate of potential risks. Networks that include Windows XP computers used for normal office activities, such as e-mail, web browsing, word processing, will become undefendable and will invite attackers inside.”

“Therefore, Microsoft is urging all business and consumers still using PCs running on Windows XP to upgrade to either Windows 7 or Windows 8, an option which has upside well beyond keeping you supported. It offers more flexibility to empower employees to be more productive, while increasing operational efficiency through improved PC security and management. It also enables your organization to take advantage of latest technology trends such as virtualization and the cloud.”

According to the findings of Microsoft’s Security Intelligence Report, Volume 14, released in April 2013, Windows XP is up to 56.5 times more vulnerable than Windows 8, while a new Cybersecurity report from Microsoft shows Windows XP’s actual infection rate is 6 times higher than Windows 8.

“Market analysis conducted in February 2014 shows that only 7.9 percent of PCs in Saudi Arabia are running Windows XP, a 12-year-old operating system no longer capable of handling sophisticated cyber-attacks and meeting demands for more data privacy and productivity,” Bafaqeeh said.

“That’s equivalent to an alarming figure of 624,000 PCs. We have seen a strong shift since September 2013, with consumers and businesses steadily upgrading to Windows 7 or 8.”

Microsoft built Windows for a mobile generation bringing together the best of software, services and devices. Today, the next generation of mobile computing starts with the new Windows platform, the one operating system that covers the broad spectrum of modern business needs.

In 1998, Microsoft opened its first Saudi office in Riyadh, which was quickly followed by branch offices in Jeddah and Alkhobar, thus establishing a presence in the Kingdom’s main business centers and confirming its long-term commitment to Saudi Arabia and its people.

Throughout this period, Microsoft invested heavily in the Kingdom and played a major role in the development of the country’s IT infrastructure — supporting governmental bodies, companies, educational institutions, NGOs, and home users. It is deeply involved in the Saudi e-government project and is focused on helping foster a healthy and growing partner ecosystem.

©2014 the Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)