According to The Economist, on April 8, Microsoft released the final security patches and fixes for Windows XP, the 13-year-old operating system that is still used on 28 percent of the world's computers. All technical support, other than paying for third-party care, is completely done. There are a number of problems inherent in the market with this shift, but small businesses can also adopt new strategies to better protect themselves in the future.

Traditional equipment still runs on XP
The news source noted that more than 400 million machines around the world will be exposed, and this doesn't just include office and home desktops and laptops. At least 95 percent of all ATMs in the world run on XP, as do a vast majority of cash registers. This makes the XP switch more difficult, as these terminals can cost up to $60,000 each. Updating or upgrading them can be a large prospect.

Businesses needing to upgrade these machines can see better luck in the near future. As "chip and pin" credit cards become more popular overseas, it's only a matter of time until such technology is adopted in the U.S., so the investment will eventually need to be made, but not quite yet.

More concerning is the effect the XP switch has on small businesses with limited funding. Many are jumping to tablet computers and using protective browsers like Google Chrome, and it's possible that they can't afford to make upgrades right now. Luckily, there are other options on the market in many cases.

Alternatives to XP
According to the news source, one of the best ways businesses can upgrade while still running legacy software is to adopt Windows 7, which can set up a virtualization of XP. However, this still leaves the virtualization open to attacks. Linux is also an option, though only 1.5 percent of all PC owners use the firmware.

ZDNet added that there's a clear trend in the market that is shifting buyers' intentions. PCs as a whole are falling in sales, and that's likely because average sales figures don't cover smaller computers and tablets. From iPads to Chromebooks, smaller and portable devices may be the new best friends of the small business.

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