While visiting a close family member in the hospital recently, I couldn’t help but notice the screen savers on several mobile carts that I passed: “Win XP Professional.” Wow, I thought, talk about trying to get every lost drop of value out of an old operating system. Then a second thought occurred to me: I wonder if this hospital has any plans to update its computers before the April 8, 2014 deadline when Microsoft is going to (supposedly) end Windows XP support?
According to research from NetMarketShare, 20% of computers in the United States and Europe are still running Windows XP. That makes it the second most widely used OS, next to Windows 7, and that’s what makes this move both a challenge and an opportunity for IT service providers — especially if you have customers in highly regulated industries like healthcare, finance, or legal services.
The reason this is such a big deal for customers in these markets is that maintaining system patches and updates is part of the security requirement (e.g. HIPAA Security Rule and Meaningul use Requiremetns) necessary for compliance. And, no one in these industries wants to be out of compliance. With just a short window left, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to check with your customers and educate them about the importance of upgrading their Windows XP machines to Windows 7 or 8 right away. In many instances such an upgrade will also require them to purchase newer machines capable of handling Windows 7 and 8’s computing requirements. But again, such costs are negligible in comparison to failing a HIPAA security audit.