With every passing day, the end of support for Windows XP draws closer. April 8 will be the last day that Microsoft will support the operating system, and when nearly 30 percent of the business world still uses it in their operations, that may lead to major headaches. Companies and IT departments need to prepare new strategies to protect their resources.

CRN says that the first step many businesses should take is to check their embedded systems. Those who work with embedded systems like ATM machines and point-of-sale terminals should look into their systems and determine new strategies for updating as soon as possible. This way, they can prevent security concerns. However, as these systems are regularly monitored, they aren't in immediate danger.

Another point of emphasis for these companies lies with Microsoft Security Essentials, otherwise known as XP's official Microsoft antivirus software. Windows will support this through July 2015, giving users more time to make necessary updates. For a more hands-on approach, users can also utilize the Malicious Software Removal Tool, which will also be supported through Security Essentials. This tool will allow administrators to remove malware more easily, fighting back against the possibility of infection by malware or backdoor problems.

Windows 7 a possibility
Some small businesses will not have the resources necessary to fully upgrade their computer systems to Windows 8, the most recent operating system released by Microsoft. While it's a bit harder to track down, acquiring Windows 7 instead may be a good option, according to The New York Times. While Microsoft itself doesn't offer the program, many vendors and stores will still sell it. This will buy companies six years of time before another upgrade, as extended support is currently expected to run through 2020.

For businesses that sincerely need XP in their practices, they can possibly hire a third-party support provider for custom care of their systems, but it's likely that would be incredibly expensive in the long run. If applications depend on XP, it may be easier for users to hire developers to upgrade them for newer systems.

No matter the choice they decide upon, the clock continues to tick, and company decisions may become even more important in the near future.

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