It was exactly 10 years ago today that Microsoft first began shipping Windows XP, and today the operating system can still be found on close to half of the world's computers, according to StatCounter.
That's more a testament to Microsoft's OEM partnership strategy than to anything particularly compelling about the technology, of course, but it's still quite an accomplishment nonetheless.
On this 10th anniversary of XP's birth, however, Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer for security firm F-Secure, has a plea to make: “Do a good deed today. Uninstall an XP.”
'The Weakest Security, By Far'
Taking all of today's major PC operating systems into account -- including Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Linux and Mac OS X -- “Windows XP has the weakest security, by far,” Hypponen wrote in a Wednesday post on the F-Secure blog.
“Ten years is an eternity in this business,” Hypponen added. “So it's no wonder XP's security architecture is not up to date.”
Given the operating system's persistently high market share, however, “attackers right now would be *stupid* to spend their time and money targeting any other operating system,” he suggested. “The attackers have never had it so good. The easiest target is also the most common target.”
It won't be long before Windows 7 surpasses XP in market share, Hypponen predicted, and when that happens, malware creators will no doubt “start looking around” for different platforms to attack.
In the meantime, though, the current situation “can't change quick enough,” he concluded.
Friends Don't Let Friends Use XP
It's no secret that Linux is my operating system of choice--for security and other reasons--but I think Hypponen's point is one we can all get behind. So weak is XP's security that it's nothing short of risky behavior to continue using the technology.
I'd still maintain that Linux is the best bet for security, particularly given the various security-focused distributions out there. Even Windows 7, however, is dramatically better than its decade-old sibling.
Whichever way you decide to go, though, the message is clear: 10 years in, friends don't let friends use XP anymore.