Blog | March 20, 2014

XP End Of Life A Boon To MSPs, Retail IT VARs

By Mike Monocello, editor-in-chief, Business Solutions magazine
Follow Me On Twitter @monocello

Top Federal IT Initiatives Include Security, Disaster Recovery, Digitizing Records

If you don't know, Microsoft's support for Windows XP ends on April 8. In the general IT space this is a big deal and significant opportunity to upgrade customers to the latest OS. In particular, XPs end of life (EOL) is a great opportunity for MSPs (managed services providers) to standardize customer's PCs to make support easier. Managing a hodge-podge of systems makes remote management and monitoring a little tricky and getting customers to standardize is often a hard sell. Well, XP EOL might be the catalyst of change you need. Don't miss it!

Concerning XP's use in retail POS systems, my take is a little different. There are many POS systems out there using Windows POSReady 2009. Although POSReady is built on XP code, Microsoft will support the OS until 2019. So, no big deal or opportunity, right? Nope, there's still an opportunity for you as a solutions provider and trusted advisor.

While POSReady will continue to be supported by Microsoft for a few more years, the reality is that many retailers aren't vigilant about updating the OS on lanes running it. Therefore, bad stuff built for XP might be able to affect un-updated (i.e., unprotected) POSReady 2009 systems. Actually, this extends to any other OS, including the latest and greatest. Customers are only as safe as the latest patches installed. Without the latest patches, a system is vulnerable. While XP EOL might not directly hurt retailers, the event can serve as an opportunity for you to provide consulatative services and/or provide patch management. Hey, offer it as a recurring service while you're at it.

The back office of a retailer is clearly susceptible if XP is left running post end-of-life. Additionally, even if updated to a new OS, employees who work in the back office often disregard or are unaware of best practices regarding data security and do dumb things that threaten their systems. Here's another area where you can prove your worth. Ensure your customers are educated and taking steps to prevent unauthorized or unnecessary access to systems that can become open doors for bad stuff. As we've seen with the recent Target breach, even PCI certified systems can be at risk when humans are involved.

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