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Upgrades costly to businesses, government as Microsoft ends XP support

Many businesses and governments are scrambling to upgrade their computer systems - but installing a newer version of Windows is costing Saskatchewan $7.5 million. Derek Putz / Global News

REGINA – Depending on your job, you may spend a lot of your day typing.

But keeping what you type safe may get tougher, with no more security patches for Windows XP.

“Because Microsoft is no longer updating Windows XP, it’s entirely possible hackers may have found and are sitting on unknown exploits for XP,” said David Gerhard, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Regina.

The 12-year-old operating system still runs more than one-quarter of computers worldwide.

Upgrading to Windows 7 will cost the Saskatchewan government $7.5 million, according to the Ministry of Central Services.

“We’ve got about 12,000 computers that need to be upgraded,” Richard Murray, the acting deputy minister told Global News on Wednesday.

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Murray says Windows 7 was chosen over the newer version, Windows 8, because more testing has been complete on the older operating system.

Installation is slated to begin in June and won’t be complete until March 2015. In the meantime, the government is paying Microsoft for extended support of its systems.

For comparison, the City of Regina started last year and will finish installing Windows 7 this summer. The project will only cost $50,000, according to a city spokesperson.

The bigger the organization, the more programs there are to test out – insuring business runs smoothly.

“Some (applications) are custom built, some of them home-built, some of them built by third parties, some purchased many years ago,” said Murray. “Those applications may or may not work with Windows 7.”

It’s been awhile since you could buy a computer with XP loaded on it, but if you’re still running the system at home, you could be at risk.

Your safest bet?

“At this point, the best thing to do is break down and buy a new computer,” Gerhard said.

Whether it’s a tablet or a new desktop, the change comes at a cost.

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