Redmond has just released the Security Intelligence Report 15 that reveals details and data on recent malware activities that affect the company’s software products, along with statistics on the infection rate of its operating platforms.

And, as expected, the focus is squarely on Windows XP this time around.

Microsoft has collected this data from more than 1 billion computers that have Windows Update turned on. Long story short, sticking with Windows XP after retirement is fraught with danger — and I have learnt not to argue with a word like fraught.

You can take a look at the report at this link, but it makes it very clear that Windows XP will soon become a very vulnerable operating system. In other words, moving to a newer version of Windows is absolutely critical for businesses and organizations.

The report discusses both client and server platforms:

“Infection rates for more recently released operating systems and service packs tend to be lower than infection rates for earlier releases, for both client and server platforms.

Encounter rates also tend to be significantly lower on server platforms than on client platforms: servers are not typically used to browse the web nearly as frequently as client computers, and web browser features such as Enhanced Security Configuration in Internet Explorer discourage using servers to visit untrusted websites.”

As the chart above shows, Windows XP SP3 is, at this point in time, the most vulnerable operating system on the market — I dread to think just how unsecure Windows XP vanilla is, without any patches applied and all that.

And after its retirement date, the number of Windows XP exploits will only grow.

Windows 8, as you can see, comes with much more advanced protection features and its CCM rate drops to 2.3 points on the 32-bit version and 1.4 points on the 64-bit one.

It goes without saying that Windows 8.1 improves upon this even further, and it is no surprise that Microsoft is pushing its customers (particularly Windows XP users ready to upgrade) towards its latest and greatest, Windows 8.1.

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