Why the sunset of Windows XP matters to your independent pharmacy

RMSPOS Windows XP Sunset Deadline CalendarIn the years that I’ve worked at RMS, I’ve come to realize that there aren’t many people who understand deadlines better than owners, managers and staff of independent and institutional pharmacies.  I also know that the last thing any of you want to read in this blog is that there’s something else that you have to put on your to do list.  But as the final months of 2013 come into focus, it’s time to start looking ahead to an important change in 2014.

April 8, 2014 will mark the sunset of one of the most popular and widely used Microsoft platforms to date.  Windows XP.  Okay, I know it’s not as dramatic as the threat of fines for not being PCI Compliant or not being able to accept FSA cards, but it’s still really important because it does have a major impact on the security of your business. Here are my  top 5 frequently asked questions when it comes to XP end of life.

Why should I care? An outdated operating platform puts your store at risk.  When support for a platform ends, all updates from the manufacturer cease. The platform will no longer be patched to deal with the latest security threats or compliance changes. So the next time something nasty comes along that threatens the security of your operating platform, there won’t be any patch to fix it.  What’s more, a part of PCI Compliance requires that all system components be installed with the latest security patches.  Once the platform is sunset and updates cease, you cannot be in compliance with a system on your store network running that platform. 

How do I know if I am using Windows XP? If you’re an RMS customer, we’ll be reaching out soon to let you know if you will be impacted by the sunset of XP. If not, click here for more information on how to verify your OS.

RMS POS Why the susnet of Windows XP Matters to your independent pharmacy resized 600What do I need to do? For the move from Windows XP, the best practice is full replacement of the machine. Machines running Windows XP are generally at least 3-4 years old and at the rate technology evolves, those machines are most likely outdated and are unlikely to be able to efficiently handle the increased demands of a newer platform.  Additionally there is no direct upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 7, so a full wipe and reload would be required. 

All systems in your network will need to be updated, not just those within your pharmacy POS system.  Any system on the store network could represent a vulnerability. 

What operating platform should I use? Most people that I talk to are definitely wary of moving to the latest Microsoft platform, Windows 8.  And that’s perfectly okay.  There are some very dramatic differences in Windows 8, and stressing yourself out with a big change like that just isn’t necessary.  At RMS, we use specialized Microsoft Windows embedded platforms on our systems with extended lifecycle dates through 2019 and 2022.  Before you begin any replacements, it’s important to check with your pharmacy point-of-sale and your pharmacy system provider.  Each provider will have different recommendations or requirements for replacement. 

Why should I replace your systems now instead of later? Remember that voice of wisdom from a parent or teacher that says “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today”? Well they were definitely right.  As we approach the end of the year, it’s time to start thinking about year-end tax benefits under Section 179.  Placing your order before 2013 comes to a close may be beneficial to you. Visit www.section179.org or check with your accountant for more information on this benefit.   

I know that not receiving security updates and patches seems like a small thing, after all, most of the time you don’t even know that those updates are happening.  But keeping your technology up to date can be just as vital to your business as any other compliance requirement. 

More questions about Windows XP?  Let the experts at RMS help.  Just leave your comments or questions below!


Karen Deckard came to RMS with a background in retail and customer service, and was initially brought on board as a Sales Assistant and managed IIAS certifications for RMS’s pharmacy POS customers.  Today, Karen works as a Customer Success Manager, striving to provide independent and institutional pharmacies with the tools and resources they need to succeed in today’s competitive pharmacy market.