Microsoft ends support for Windows XP

Preventing cyberattacks difficult for Japan's 5.92 million XP-based computers still in use

Kyodo, JIJI

Microsoft Corp. ended its support Wednesday for its Windows XP operating system, including security measures against viruses, and called for an early migration to newer operating systems.

The company terminated its support after providing its last security update program for Windows XP and will continue to promote users to switch to other operating systems, such as Windows 8.1.

In Japan, about 5.92 million Windows XP-based computers are likely to still be in use at the end of June, accounting for 7.7 percent of all personal computers used in Japan, according to research firm IDC Japan.

Shunichi Kajisa, chief technology officer of Microsoft Japan Co., said at a news conference in Tokyo that it would be difficult to prevent cyberattacks with the aging Windows XP and it is important that users change their operating systems as soon as possible.

“We also understand there are customers who will be using Windows XP for various reasons. In that case, we want to ask them to take measures to reduce risks,” he said.

The company is suggesting that such users apply the latest security update program, refrain from connecting to the Internet and use USB memory sticks.

Despite repeated requests by Microsoft, the shift to the newer operating systems has been slow, especially among small and midsize companies that want to cut costs.

Upgrading to recent operating systems not only involves buying newer and faster PCs but also paying a considerable amount of license fees necessary to upgrade other business software.

The situation is equally severe at cash-strapped municipalities. A survey report announced last November by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that about 266,200 PCs held by local governments, or about 13 percent, would not be upgraded.

Such municipalities plan to disconnect XP-based PCs from the Internet, but as one local government official put it, “it is hardly possible to say damage can be fully averted.”

The ministry has thus been calling on local governments not to use them until they are upgraded.

Since its launch in 2001, Windows XP has been widely used among corporate customers, forcing the company to extend the period of support until April 2014 from the originally planned April 2009.