Windows XP support ending

NEW YORK – Microsoft will end support for the persistently popular Windows XP today, and the move could put everything from the operations of heavy industry to the identities of everyday people in danger.

An estimated 30 percent of computers being used by businesses and consumers around the world are still running the 12-year-old operating system.

“What once was considered low-hanging fruit by hackers now has a big neon bull’s eye on it,” says Patrick Thomas, a security consultant at the San Jose, Calif.-based firm Neohapsis.

Microsoft has released a handful of Windows operating systems since 2001, but XP’s popularity and the durability of the computers it was installed on kept it around longer than expected. Analysts say that if a PC is more than five years old, chances are it’s running XP.