BUSINESS IT support specialist Arran Bennett, from Systemagic in Trowbridge, is warning companies across the South West to prepare for a big change in PC support.

From April 8, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available from Microsoft and there will no longer be automatic updates to protect personal PCs or outdated business systems.

Microsoft is calling this its ‘End of Life’ scenario for Windows XP. Businesses which use portable payment card technologies, such as hotels, restaurants and some shops, could be particularly vulnerable.

Many businesses relying on old computer systems and software will become unprotected from viruses or system failures. Windows XP has been supported by Microsoft for more than a decade.

Mr Bennett, technical manager at Systemagic, which has offices in Wiltshire and Bath, believes many small to medium-sized businesses may not even know about these changes.

He said: “The time to act is now. Many businesses, both large and small, have kept old software and technology because that can seem like the easy option.

“However, these once popular technologies are too old, and those who don’t make changes risk the security of their IT systems.

“Those businesses which may be particularly at risk could include hotels, pubs, restaurants, shops – any enterprise which uses a card payment machine.”