Support for Windows XP will end six months from today as Microsoft tries to draw a line under its ancient operating system. However, firms of all shapes and sizes are still ignoring this looming issue despite the huge risks it will cause.

From 8 April 2014, Microsoft is ending all support for the platform, which will mean no more security patches or software upgrades unless firms pay for custom support. This has the potential to leave businesses open to attack on out-of-date and unmonitored systems.

However many firms have shown unwillingness to address the issue. Research back in April, to mark the one-year countdown to the deadline, revealed that over half of UK firms had done nothing to prepare for a migration to Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Microsoft said last month that it is finally starting to see businesses move away from Windows XP, but given that there is now only six months until the deadline it may be too late.

Adrian Foxall, the chief executive of application and software migration firm Camwood, which commissioned the research published in April, said any firm that has left it too late could face serious issues.

ôSome of the really large enterprises are not going to be off XP in time and this will cause risks in terms of security and compliance, so they are going to have to get some sort of custom support," he told V3.

"However, that is not something Microsoft is really going to want to encourage or offer for all but the largest firms, so I do think we will see an acceleration in the next six months, but firms could still be left exposed for a while."

He added that given the short time frame it will be hard for firms to move their entire systems, so a focus on the most mission-critical apps is required. He also said it was unlikely that Microsoft will extend the deadline, especially as it has already done so before.