How soon is “right around the corner”? This coming Tuesday, April 8, is when Microsoft will officially stop supporting Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003. As of that date, the company will no longer provide security updates or patches for those platforms.

If you haven’t taken the necessary steps yet, don’t panic – you’re not alone.

For more than a decade, Windows XP has been the most popular operating system amongst restaurants and retail stores – many will be affected, and many have still not made the switch. In fact, the operating system’s usage share is still approximately 29 percent worldwide.

You might be wondering: how will I know if I will be affected or not?

If you’re currently using Windows XP or Microsoft Office 2003, Microsoft has most likely sent you a pop-up notifying you that you will no longer be supported as of next week.

You are probably also wondering: what will happen if don’t make the switch?

Continuing to use Windows XP or Microsoft Office 2003 after Microsoft no longer supports them puts you at risk of security breaches. When Microsoft releases security updates for later Windows versions, hackers will be able to use Windows XP to search for weak spots, and malware authors will be able to write exploit code and gain access to customer data. In other words, it can result in fines for failure to pass compliance audits, inability to use major credit cards, and a tainted public image due to security breach or failure to pass compliance.

And now you probably want to know: what steps can I take in the next week?

  1. Determine whether or not your computers and/or POS terminals are using Windows XP or Microsoft Office 2003. If you’re having trouble, call your vendor for help.
  2. Make the switch to a later Windows version that is supported, or another modern operating system. If you’re not sure which would work best with your business, ask your vendor.
  3. Restrict or limit network traffic associated with your computers or terminals that use XP.

Good news: there’s a free tool to help you make the move.

Laplink developed a free tool called PCmover Express for Windows XP users to transfer their files and settings from PCs to new machines running on Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. With the tool, users can pick and choose the files and settings they want to move onto their new machine. It’s available for download at or Microsoft’s Download Center.

There is also a paid version of the tool for a more in-depth data transfers: Lapllink also developed software called PCmover Professional that allows users to migrate apps from their old Windows XP machines that will work with their newer machines at a low cost.

Now that you have the information you need, make the most of your time remaining before the end of life date and take the necessary steps needed to remain safe, secure and compliant.