Last week reports surfaced about the possibility of a developing black market for Windows XP patches. If you or your clients are still running XP, here's some good advice: Don't do it. Users are far better off taking the pain of upgrading to a newer version of Windows before gambling security on a black market patch.
Steven J Vaughan-Nichols, writing on Computerworld, explained that the black market may have been created because Microsoft has created a world of XP haves and have-nots. If you were a big enough customer, like say the IRS, you rate XP patches for another year - and even that will cost you dearly with early Microsoft support price gouging running a whopping $200 per machine.
Vaughan-Nichols reports some sources are telling him that because people weren't biting at that price, it's dropped to $25 a machine.
Whatever it is, you probably can't get it because you're not one of the chosen large corporate customers. That's right, they won't even take your money. They want you to spend it on Windows 7 or, even better, on Windows 8.1.
But I know what some of you are thinking: If there are patches out there, surely there'll be a market for such things. And that's precisely what Vaughan-Nichols is predicting.
As soon as the first patch hits the street on May 13th, somebody is going to put it up for sale to the highest bidder. Heck, it's entirely likely that patches will start showing up on torrent sites to download for free with the latest cineplex hit movie and the Game of Thrones.
Whatever you do, I would encourage every SMB and IT provider to resist the temptation and just don't do it. You have no idea where these patches came from, if there are viruses or trojan horses attached to them, or if they will just break your system because they're fake patches.
You wouldn't buy software in a back alley for your business, and you shouldn't buy them from an unknown source online, much less download it for free. You will be putting your business at risk and it's just not worth it. At some point, you have to simply bite the bullet and upgrade your systems.
The fact is, no matter how you feel about Microsoft cutting off support to what seems to you to be a perfectly stable operating system, they made a business decision to move on and you have to figure out how to deal with it.
Big companies make costly changes all the time. Apple suddenly changed the connector for iPhones. Google shutters services all the time, seemingly on a whim, but more likely with a good business reason behind it.
These companies are doing what they think is best for them. They are not always looking out for SMBs' best interest, but nobody is going to feel sorry for you. You just have to figure out a plan and move forward.
No matter how painful that might be, it's not going to be nearly as painful as dealing with a patch from an unknown source and the potential problems and pitfalls that could bring. Do yourself a favor and don't even consider it.
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