As most of you know by now, Microsoft officially ends support for Windows XP on April 14, 2014. The real impact is hard to predict. As we ponder its implications, I’m struck by comparisons of Windows XP’s demise to the dreaded Y2K issue of 13 years ago. As December 31st, 1999 approached, the predictions became increasingly more dire. Water supplies were going to dry up! All electricity in the world would go off-grid and we’d all freeze to death! All computers would stop working and we’d all have to start using abacuses again!

Alas, we know that while Y2K was annoying and troubling for some, it did not bring about the end of computer times. The demise of Windows XP has the potential to be a lot like that. On April 15th, 2014, Windows XP will continue to boot and to work just like it always did. And most operational bugs are surely fixed by now–Windows XP is more than 12 years old and has been pounded on by millions of users around the world.

Despite the potential for nothing happening, if I was an IT manager I’d take the demise of Windows XP a little more seriously than many seem to be taking it. Worldwide, Windows 7 rules the roost for desktop operating systems with 46% of the market. Amazingly, though, Windows XP is still number two, owning 31% of the market. That is a lot of Windows XP desktops and certainly more than will be replaced with an alternative by April, 2014. Closer to home, I’ve had several conversations with customers who don’t think the Windows XP support issue is a very big deal. In Barcelona at last spring’s ASNApalooza 2014, I had a few customers who all but told me I was crazy for worrying about it.

When Microsoft ends support, and it has doggedly insisted there is no going back on this date, that means that all critical updates stop. So, yes XP will surely continue to run–it’s not magically just going to stop working, but your exposure for malware, viruses, trojan horses, rootkits, and similar maladies will surely increase. As Microsoft says on the Windows XP end-of-support site, “Running Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 in your environment after their end of support date may expose your company to potential risks…” InfoWorld recently published this article that also outlines the risks of persisting Windows XP after next April to ensure uninterrupted product support.

To us at ASNA it is very clear that short of Microsoft changing the Windows XP end-of-support date, without the availability of service packs to combat various attacks (viruses, malware, etc.), it is unlikely that unsupported Windows XP can be used in a networked environment with any reasonable assurance that it won’t cause problems. For this reason, by April 14, 2014 we will have stopped using Windows XP, for all purposes, here at ASNA. We are going to do all we can to persist our support for Windows XP but we’ll not be able to test fixes for Windows XP after April 14, 2014. We created ASNA Visual RPG 5.0 to solve this problem and strongly recommend customers upgrade from AVR Classic 4.1 to AVR Classic 5.0 before next April to ensure uninterrupted product support.

No one knows for sure what’s going to happen with the end of Windows XP support. Many will surely continue to work without a care in the world. However, I think it’s quite likely that some users will experience a lot of grief and trouble within a few months of XP’s formal demise. What you do about your Windows XP installations is up to you. But if I were you, I’d ask myself one question, “Do I feel lucky?”