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April 09. 2013 8:55PM

Clock's ticking on Windows XP; Newington firm gets word out


BAMFORD 

NEWINGTON - April marks the one-year countdown to the end of support for Microsoft's Windows XP operating system and one local company is trying to get the word out to users that now is the time to make the switch.

Keith Bamford, CEO of Daystar, a 12-year-old technology solutions company, said Windows XP is still in use by about 40 percent of its customers, including small and large nonprofits and businesses.

On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will issue its final security update for the 12-year-old software, which will leave it more vulnerable to hackers and threats. End of support means there will be no more security updates, non-security hot fixes, no free or paid support and no updated online technical content.

"Microsoft saying 'I am done creating patches for you on this operating system' is a big deal because now the hackers of the world will go towards that operating system because they know there are no new protections being created," Bamford said. "So if they can find a backdoor in, once they find that door, they can hit anyone using that operating system, and there is nothing to stop them."

Although this should be of concern to everyone, it is of particular concern to businesses that are dealing with financial and health-care data, or any number of industries that have to meet compliancy requirements.

Regulations including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, which governs medical patient privacy, require systems to be patched, updated and secured.

"The second you are not doing that, you are out of compliance," Bamford said.

Daystar and other similar companies are helping clients with migration plans away from Windows XP, as upgrades are not always the best and most cost-effective option.

"Unfortunately, people have the illusion 'I'll just upgrade and away we go' and you have to make sure all your applications will work (with a new operating system)," Bamford said. "The companies who stay up to date understand this."

Organizations have to determine what applications they are running, whether they will run on a newer operating system and if not, how they will handle it.

Bob O'Donnell, an analyst at market research firm IDC, told Bloomberg News he considers the move from Windows XP to Windows 7 one of the biggest stories of 2013.

"There are a staggering number of machines still running Windows XP," O'Donnell told the business news service. The IT guys have to pull the plug on those and upgrade, and most will do that by buying new machines."

About 60 percent of Daystar's customers are now using Windows 7, which Bamford called a robust and solid system. Daystar staff are currently testing out the new Windows 8 system, which he said presents some stark changes.

The bottom line, Bamford said, is that XP users have to get away from the mindset that the operating system is "good enough."

"We feel very comfortable that over the next year we'll be moving everybody and getting everybody up to speed," Bamford said.

Daystar was founded in 2000 by Bamford and his two brothers, Dan and Eric. The company now has 21 employees, many of them engineers, and services 300 to 400 networks from two-node networks to 150-node networks with information technology teams.

Services range from network design and implementation to security solutions and hardware sales.



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