Despite reports that appear to dilute the role Windows XP played in the spread of the WannaCry virus earlier this month, one fact remains: Windows XP is a very old operating system.

Like, really old.

Sure, Windows 7 was apparently the main catalyst for WannaCry’s foray into vital British institutions and businesses, but there’s no escaping the fact Windows XP was far from immune, with machines running the venerable operating system susceptible to crashing if they came into contact with the malware.

This is for one very simple reason – Microsoft ended support for XP way back on April 8th 2014, putting any machine that still runs the legacy operating system at significant risk of cyberattacks and data breaches.

So why should restaurants be concerned?

According to research by NetMarketShare, over 7% of the world’s computers still operate Windows XP.

Given that there are still a vast number of restaurants, bars and pubs continuing to use old EPOS systems, there’s a strong chance they make up a significant portion of that 7%.

Take a look at your till system, for example. When was it last upgraded? When it boots up, do you see this screen?

Windows XP boot screen

If so, it’s time to invest. But we’re sure that’ll immediately fill your mind with questions – which we’ll do our best to preempt and answer:

Will my till system continue to work?

Yes. That is, until a piece of hardware contained within gives up the ghost or the installation of Windows becomes corrupt and unable to load. How and when either of those scenarios takes place is entirely down to chance.

Will my till system be affected by future malware attacks?

It’s highly likely – even if you’re running up-to-date antivirus software. Despite the fact Microsoft took the highly unprecedented step of releasing a patch for XP that addressed WannaCry, don’t expect them to do the same in future.

What about my EPOS software?

Chances are, your EPOS software provider also stopped supporting XP several years ago, therefore you’re probably running a much older version of their app – and that means you’re likely missing out on a bunch of cool new features.

Can I just upgrade to a new version of Windows?

Potentially. Speak to your EPOS vendor. If you’re lucky, the hardware might be able to cope with the latest version of Windows (although it’s a long shot, to be honest).

Should I ditch Windows entirely?

Possibly, although remember – the latest versions will be far more secure than XP. That said, there’s nothing wrong with dipping your toes into the waters of alternative operating systems like Android and iOS – both of which now offer some compelling, cost-effective EPOS solutions.

When should I upgrade?

As soon as possible. No matter how much you existing EPOS system feels like a trusty old steed, it presents a real threat to your business in a digital economy that thrives on data security. Running Windows XP puts both your and your customers’ information at high risk, and that’s a risk that simply isn’t worth taking.

Crikey, you’ve made me depressed…

Sorry – that genuinely isn’t the intention. The fact simply remains that Windows XP isn’t fit for modern business use, no matter the industry within which you reside.

Thankfully, every digital cloud has a silver lining, and we now live in an era where there are a huge number of affordable EPOS systems to choose from. Whether you want to move to a cloud-based system or one that is entirely tablet-based, there should be something that fits your budget.

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