Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft, holds a copy of Microsoft's Windows XP in New York's Times Square in 2001.
Those computers are among hundreds of millions that continue to operate with Windows XP despite several months of warnings by Microsoft that it would discontinue security updates and technical support services for its still-popular legacy operating system.
Consumers, businesses and municipalities across the country now are under pressure to replace or upgrade their computers or suffer ever-increasing security risks. Those at-risk systems include 95 percent of U.S. bank ATMs, which still are running Windows XP, according to a report by Retail Banking Research.
The expiration of support for Windows XP also means that software publishers will stop developing applications that are compatible with the operating system, despite research that shows Windows XP remains the second-most-used desktop operating system in the world.
“The time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences,” Microsoft said in a news release. The Redmond, Wash.-based company released Windows XP on Dec. 31, 2001.
Even though Microsoft has been warning ever since 2007 that the end was looming, Windows XP still represented 18.6 percent of all desktop operating systems as of March 2014, behind Windows 7, which held the top spot with nearly 55 percent, according to research firm StatCounter. Windows 8, the operating system Microsoft has been promoting since last year, lags behind with just 7.9 percent of desktops installed.