Windows XP support ends today. But it’s still used everywhere from governments to ATMs.

After 12 long years, today is D-Day for Microsoft's Windows XP operating system. Starting today, free support and updates for the software will stop. But who is still using an operating system released over a decade ago?

Turns out, a lot of people. While estimates vary, XP consistently ranks as the second most popular operating system worldwide. Analytics firm StatCounter says that nearly 17 percent of desktop, tablet, and console users are on XP, while Net Marketshare puts the desktop use even higher at nearly 28 percent.

The U.S. government

As the Post reported in March,  the U.S. government is among the Microsoft customers who just couldn't let go. At the time "despite a recent rush to complete upgrades," an estimated 10 percent of several million government computers were expected to miss the upgrade deadline. That estimate includes thousands of computers on military and diplomatic networks that secure classified information, U.S. officials told Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima.

On the local level, reports suggest state and city governments around the country are still playing catch up too.

Other governments 

But the U.S. government isn't alone -- around the world, other governments have hit a similar problem. The Guardian reports that both the British and Dutch governments are paying millions of dollars to Microsoft for an extended year of support.

While the one million euro Dutch deal reportedly only covers support for 40,000 systems -- the number covered by the 5.5 million pound British deal is likely much longer. As recently as September of last year, EHI Intelligence calculated that some 85 percent of the 800,000 PCs in the state run National Health Service were still running on XP.

ATMs

You know those magic cash boxes found on street corners around the world? Some 95 percent of them were running Windows XP earlier this year, and the ATM Industry Association only expected 38 percent of those to upgrade by today. And hackers and security researchers keep finding new ways to exploit the system. Just last month, cybersecurity company Symantec reported on a hack that forced Windows XP based ATMs to spit out cash by sending them text messages.

But while a massive number of ATMs run XP, some use a variant called "Windows Embedded" that was designed specifically for things like ATMs, cash registers, and other appliances or industrial machines. As Dina Bass at Bloomberg notes, one version of Windows Embedded will lose support today along with the general PC platform, but another will keep getting patched until January, 2016.

Still, Symantec warns, "with the looming end-of-life for Windows XP slated for April 8, 2014, the banking industry is facing a serious risk of cyberattacks aimed at their ATM fleet."

 

Nearly half of Chinese desktop and tablet users

XP was a huge success in China, despite the country's issues with software piracy. According to StatCounter, some 44 percent of desktop, tablet, and console users are still running the operating system as of this month. It's the most popular OS in the country, even beating out Windows 7.

But despite some reports to the contrary, Microsoft will be ending its free support for the OS in China -- although as in other countries, some computer security companies will offer their own services to fill in the gap. Some users of the Chinese social media service Weibo have even started to say their farewells to the OS online, according to Kotaku.

Your neighbors 

But consumers in China aren't the only everyday users clinging to the OS. Whether it's price or usability concerns, StatCounter shows over 13 percent of U.S. computers, tablets, or consoles were still running Windows XP as of this month.

Read more:

Mourning the end of XP? We’ll help get you through it.

Government computers running Windows XP will be vulnerable to hackers after April 8

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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