A report by ZDNet indicates that nearly a third of the public sector and business user base of many Eastern European countries still use Windows XP. Microsoft recently dropped support for the storied operating system (OS), which leaves a gaping security hole for many of these PCs. Prominent examples are Romania, with 34 percent of its install base still using the old OS. That’s 37.5 percent for Hungary. The Ukraine is at a whopping 41.2 percent. Worse yet, many of these companies are businesses where information security is vital: such as accounting and insurance.
There are several reasons why many businesses users in these regions refuse to upgrade. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; many businesses rely on legacy proprietary software that may not have counterparts updated for Windows 7 and beyond. Other, more obvious reasons are economical: to many, it simply isn’t worth paying for the cost to upgrade and the transition cost of training and investigating compatible software. And of course, there’s just plain ignorance. A lack of understanding that such an old OS lacks the updated security models to cope with modern day malware. Many of these companies, especially the smaller ones, likely don’t have adequate IT personnel to make informed decisions about information security.
It’s worth noting that NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in certain countries like Romania seem to be doing better at upgrading, with a larger number of users on Windows 7 or 8.1. This might have something to do Microsoft donating nearly $3 million in OS licenses, the largest donation ever to the local NGO sector. This also supports the notion that many refuse to upgrade more for economical practicality than necessity.
While the report points specifically to Eastern Europe, it bears mentioning that virtually every country in the world still has marginal numbers of companies that refuse to upgrade. To that end, at least on a philosophical level, Microsoft’s recent insistence on pushing its latest Windows 10 out as aggressively as possible makes a great deal of sense.Further reading: Cybersecruity, Security, Windows XP