Lawyers, Don’t be an April Fool for Windows XP

– By Jim Calloway

Calloway has been frequent presenters at ABA TECHSHOW and served as Chair of the 2005 TECHSHOW Planning Board. He is the Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Assistance Program. He will be presenting two sessions at TECHSHOW 2014.

This post was originally published at Calloway’s Law Practice Tips Blog.

Here’s an item for your 2014 calendar. April 1 – Confirm we have no computers using Windows XP in operation at home or work. Now April Fool’s Day may seem like a long time off as you read this, but running Windows XP after Microsoft ceases Windows XP support means that you are behaving like a fool. Be aware that Windows XP’s “end of life” is coming in April. (OK, it is really April 8, but you might have trouble getting any IT help that week and isn’t April 1 really easier to remember? Besides some lawyers like to buy new computers at year’s end for tax reasons.)

So for those of you who have used XP all these years, avoiding the pain of the Vista and the first release of Windows 8, why would I call you a fool for keeping on keeping on? Because the end of support means no security upgrades and many of us, including Microsoft, are predicting a huge malware spike in the days following April 8. It really makes sense, doesn’t it? A malware designer who has developed some atrocious thing to steal credit card numbers, hijack your computer or just make it inoperable who releases it now would likely be stymied by a patch or fix released by Microsoft the very next  “Patch Tuesday.” But after April 8, it will be clear sailing.

Cynics may claim Microsoft is warning people about this to increase sales of new copies of Windows and new computer sales. Well, there could be something to that, but a thing can be true and still be good for sales. I have to give Microsoft credit in that they have been supporting XP since its release almost 12 years ago. They have planned a couple of times previously to end XP support, but have been deterred by public reaction. Other cynics would observe that if M$ really cared about PC sales that much, they wouldn’t have released Windows 8, which combined with the growing popularity of tablets to really crater PC sales in 2013.

But today no law firm can afford to have its PC’s gummed up by malware. Law firms run on their computer systems. Downtime is lost revenue and lost data is even more serious. Protecting the client’s confidential information held on the firm’s computers is extremely important, as well as is protecting the lawyer’s personal credit card info. It will be quite a change to go from XP to Windows 7 or 8.1 for the user and some old “legacy” software may no longer work. But that is just how it is. I still prefer Windows 7 and note that most law offices do not have the touch screen monitors to easily make full use of Windows 8.

But this is a “drop dead’ deadline. April 1 = No XP. If you are reading this post on an XP machine, make a note on your calendar– or just buy that new computer today.