Will WannaCry malware finally get everyone to leave Windows XP?

Can we ever be safe if XP remains the third most popular OS?

Hopefully there are going to be plenty of lessons learned from the WannaCry fracas, and with any luck, it will see folks finally abandoning Windows XP for good – and that’s certainly something that needs to happen as XP is still the third most-used desktop operating system in the world.

That’s despite the fact that it hasn’t received security patches from Microsoft for over three years now, meaning it has more holes than a leaky bucket – including vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited, as what happened with the WannaCry ransomware which hit the NHS so badly.

According to Netmarketshare’s desktop operating system statistics for April, no less than 7.04% of PCs out there are still using Windows XP (and a good number of them are likely to reside in a corporate environment).

This makes it the third most popular OS, behind only Windows 7 (48.5%) and Windows 10 (26.28%).

Windows 8.1 is just lagging XP on 6.96%, with macOS 10.12 on 3.21% in fifth place, and Linux following on 2.09%. Windows 8 is just behind that on 1.59%, so if you were to lump that in with Windows 8.1, the total of Windows 8/8.1 would actually be slightly higher than Windows XP.

But technically speaking, Netmarketshare counts these as separate operating systems, so XP is in third place. And at any rate, 7% of all PCs is clearly a ludicrous amount of machines out there running such an outdated OS – with security risks that have been so clearly underlined at the close of last week.

  • The best laptops certainly aren't running Windows XP anymore

Deep impact

Such has been the widespread impact of the WannaCry ransomware that Microsoft has taken the unprecedented step of issuing a special security patch for Windows XP systems – while not hesitating to note that Windows 10 was not targeted by the attack.

As mentioned, many of these Windows XP PCs are likely to be in corporate or public sector environments, with many businesses still having at least the odd PC tucked away in a corner somewhere running the horribly outdated OS.

So, given the amount of publicity and heat the whole WannaCry incident has generated, with any luck these companies will be seriously re-evaluating their migration strategies, with a view to putting pedal-to-the-metal in terms of upgrading from XP.

Otherwise, even if you’re a tech-savvy individual who would never have Windows XP on a machine at home, you could still be affected by the curse of XP if your data is being held by an organization that still insists on using the operating system. And that is not a happy thought…

Via: Business Insider UK