In about 100 business days, U.S software giant Microsoft will retire support services for its most widely-used operating system Windows XP. April 8, 2014, marks the end of 12 years of free-technical support, which Microsoft claims is the longest extended for any software product and service. In a bid to remind enterprise customers of Windows XP of the impending deadline, Microsoft’s India division has commissioned surveys which warn organisations, government agencies, and state-owned banks, in particular, of the repercussions.

Presenting the findings of the study by Ascentius Consulting, Microsoft claims that 34,115 public sector bank branches are at risk once the deadline expires. Amrish Goyal, General Manager of the Windows Business Group, told The Hindu that 30 per cent of the Indian commercial market (comprising companies and public offices) is yet to upgrade.

But the worrying statistic is that of government offices and public sector banks, all of which run critical operations where security is important. Mr. Goyal says 50 per cent of the Indian banking sector is running on Windows XP. The size of the commercial PC market is an estimated 20 million. If the banking sector sticks to the XP installations, after support ends, banks will face issues ranging from security to increased downtimes.

Earlier this year in June, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), under the Union Department of Electronics and Information Technology, released an advisory note informing government departments using XP to immediately plan for upgradation, and test operations.  The advisory said that not upgrading would throw up security and compliance issues and suspension of certification by authorities.

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