The last few grains of sand in Windows XP’s hourglass are beginning to run out, and one group in particular sits eagerly awaiting the discontinuation of the old operating system. Eventually, the OS will stop receiving security updates; updates that keep you and your system safe from cybercriminals and hackers. On April 8th, those defenses will be gone and 500 million PCs that run everything from ATMs to your business will be exposed.

With over a decade of research and experimentation, cybercriminals have had plenty of time to find the best weapons available to infiltrate your system and extract classified information. Cybersecurity professionals like Adam Meyers, Vice President of Intelligence at Crowdstrike, are urging people to upgrade their OS before the deadline because after that “victims cannot defend themselves.”

Microsoft has also sought to shift users to their newer operating systems (Windows 7 or Windows 8). In a statement on their website they declared that, “Without critical Windows XP security updates, your PC may become vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage your business data and information.”

Some will believe that Microsoft is looking out for its corporate interests rather than its consumers. Windows 8 has not had the debut the company had hoped for, and PC sales have plummeted almost 14%. It would make sense for Microsoft to force one-third of computer users around the world to upgrade to its newer operating system. It could create a greater demand for PCs and new software which could increase the company’s profit margin after April 8th.

But that’s speculation, and Microsoft has supported Windows XP for over a decade (that’s a lot longer than any other existing OS). A spokesman for the company informed the public that, “We realize there are some who are still completing the migration process,” so they will continue to update anti-malware products for XP users through July 14, 2015. The decision to discontinue Windows XP likely comes from Microsoft’s desire to have operating systems that are responsive to the needs of today’s consumer, which XP can no longer do.

Continuing to use Windows XP will be detrimental to the security of your intellectual property and could leave you at the mercy of cybercriminals. The OS has had a very good run, but it was built for a different time and a different consumer. We strongly urge that you upgrade to either Windows 7 or Windows 8 in order to keep both you and your employees well protected.

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