Heads up, loyal Microsoft Windows XP users, your days are numbered.

Heads up, loyal Microsoft Windows XP users, your days are numbered.

Just about the time you're making that last dash to get your tax forms in order, Microsoft plans to pull the XP plug.

No more security patches, no more support, and you'll be on your own.

"It's been on their radar for quite a while, they just kept pushing it back and pushing it back," said Scott Anderson, president of Core Business Services in Medford. "They finally drew a line in the sand and said they would not support the system any more."

XP appeared in 2001, eons ago in the computing world, and it may long ago have exited gracefully had Microsoft not unleashed its monumental Windows Vista blunder on the market in 2006. With Windows 7 and 8 having elbowed their way into both personal and corporate use, few discernible particles of egg remain on the Microsoft face.

Anderson's firm is offering a series of Lunch 'n Learn events, including an 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. gathering Thursday, Oct. 24, at Rogue Valley County Club.

"Microsoft has been trying to get on to the next operating system since the Vista disaster," Anderson said. "Windows 7 was a solid operating system that people started to place on their computers as they needed to refresh their systems, but it was still a slower adoption because you could still buy XP on new machines."

Windows 8, which went in general use in August 2012, went after tablet and mobile device users.

The dangers awaiting XP holdouts revolve around security, Anderson said, because there won't be updates to plug holes, fix bugs or other breaches that data thieves pursue.

"These days where we are talking about hacking security, the operating system itself is a pretty vulnerable spot if the user does something wrong — like not having security updates," Anderson said. As a result, online banking because more risky.

A second issue involves business networks using XP. They won't integrate with computers with newer operating systems and, over time, certain features won't function.

Regulated industries such as health care, where Health Insurance Portability and Accountability comes into play, or commercial businesses dealing with payment card industry compliance won't be able to sit on their hands.

"For the industries that are more regulated and where there is more risk involved with patient information or credit card numbers, it's even more important to be in compliance," Anderson said. "We've been telling our clients to take a proactive approach to look at their machines Some are up to date and others have 50 percent XP operating systems and they are going to be making a hefty capital investment."

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.