On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will cease full support of its Windows XP operating system. So what does this mean to you, if you are still using Windows XP?
Why is this important?
According to ComputerWorld
, around 30% of the computers around the world still run Windows XP. This translates to over 480 Million computers. Unfortunately, security bugs are still being found and fixed in Windows XP 12 years after it was released. As each new security bug found in Windows XP is reported, each of those 480,000,000 computers becomes more vulnerable to exploits which can expose data and allow those computers to commandeered by people other than the computer's owner. As a Windows XP user, you need to fully understand how this will impact you.
Will my computer still work after April 8?
Yes, your computer will still work as it does today. The issue is that your computer will be at greater risk the longer you keep using Windows XP.
What's the big deal about this then?
Currently when someone finds a security problem with the code in any version of Windows, Microsoft fixes the problem. Even when a security problem is found in a newer version of Windows, if the problem also exists in an older version of the code Microsoft will fix that too. On "Patch Tuesday
" Microsoft bundles all of the fixes it has made and sends them as an update to their users. After April 8 ("Patch Tuesday" for April), that will change for Windows XP users. Windows XP users will no longer receive security updates from Microsoft. Per the Microsoft
As a result, after April 8, 2014, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available, including automatic updates that help protect your PC. Microsoft will also stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP on this date. (If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you will continue to receive antimalware signature updates for a limited time, but this does not mean that your PC will be secure because Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates to help protect your PC.)
Highlights by the diarist.
Microsoft's site geared towards the enterprise (businesses) lists the following risks associated with remaining on Windows XP
Without critical Windows XP security updates, your PC may become vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage your business data and information. Anti-virus software will also not be able to fully protect you once Windows XP itself is unsupported.
Businesses that are governed by regulatory obligations such as HIPAA may find that they are no longer able to satisfy compliance requirements. More information on HHS’s view on the security requirements for information systems that contain electronic protected health information (e-PHI) can be found here (HHS HIPAA FAQ - Security Rule).
Lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) Support:
Many software vendors will no longer support their products running on Windows XP as they are unable to receive Windows XP updates. For example, the new Office takes advantage of the modern Windows and will not run on Windows XP.
Hardware Manufacturer support:
Most PC hardware manufacturers will stop supporting Windows XP on existing and new hardware. This will also mean that drivers required to run Windows XP on new hardware may not be available.
OK, so what are my options?
According to Microsoft you have two options:
Option 1: If the computer running XP is powerful enough to run Windows 8.1, then purchase the upgrade. Microsoft has provided a tool (note: this link will download a tool from Microsoft)
which you can use to test your XP computer to see if it is able to run the latest version of Windows. If the computer running XP cannot support Windows 8.1, see Option 2.
Option 2: Buy a new computer.
But of course there are other options:
If your XP computer cannot run the latest Windows operating system, there is a third option, consider one of the free and open source operating systems. Like Microsoft's options, this option should be well researched before you make the decision. You will find that there is free and open source software available for almost anything you can do on a Windows computer. You may also find that running an open sourced operating system on your old XP box will speed up your computer. However, Linux based operating systems may not be the right fit for you. Linux is lacking when it comes to gaming and running Microsoft Office applications (Linux is catching up on the gaming front and there are workarounds if you absolutely need to run MS Office). I am sure that if you have questions about these operating systems, I and others in the discussion threads below will be happy to help. In the interest of full disclosure, I have been running Ubuntu Linux on my personal computers for 5 years and love it.
Lastly, there is a fourth option - stick with Windows XP and hope for the best. There may be reasons, financial and otherwise, that the other three options do not work for you. SeaTurtle, whose diary inspired this one, has a number of customizations on the XP machine which make changing operating systems or upgrading to a newer version of Windows impractical. SeaTurtle's solution is to stick with XP, but not use it online after the final Microsoft update on April 8. This will keep SeaTurtle productive and buy some time for a comprehensive solution to those issues (like maybe moving to Apple computers).
I know you, you're that random guy on the internet giving me scary news about my computer!
I always tell everyone, never accept anything a guy on the internet says at face value. Do some reading
and some research
before you make your final decision. Learn about Windows 8.1
to see how other people like it, it will be a major change from Windows XP. If you work for a company ask your IT people what they think. If your kid is living in the basement, throw him a bag of Cheetos and a case of Nos and ask him to do some research and come up with a plan. Ask questions here of people you trust.
In all seriousness, I've been involved with personal computing since the mid-1980's. I've done everything from selling PC's, building PC's, writing programs, and managing the development of huge programs for a Fortune 500 company. These days I am not well versed in Windows 8.1 or Apple products in general, almost everything I do is on Linux and Android. I know that there are a lot of people here are well versed in Apple and Microsoft technologies, and I hope they will help answer your questions about those platforms when they arise.
So what should I do next?
If you are not receiving it already. Microsoft will begin displaying a "nag" box reminding you that you only have a few days left to upgrade your computer.
Make sure your friends and relatives are aware of this situation if they are running Windows XP.
If you are running Windows XP check to make sure that you have Microsoft's latest updates and security tools installed before April 8. Also, make sure that you download and install the last update for Windows XP when it becomes available.
Make sure you have the ability to back up all of your computer's data - especially if you're going the upgrade or Linux route.
If you are planning on buying a new computer, plan to use a tool like Laplink to migrate your data and settings from your XP computer to your new computer. Interestingly Microsoft recommends Laplink over a tool Microsoft designed themselves for the same purpose.
Start doing your homework now so you can make some decisions well before April 8. If you run XP and plan to upgrade or buy a new computer, don't wait until the last minute especially if you plan on doing your taxes on your new or upgraded computer.
Got any more bad news for me?
Yes. Support for Office 2003 ends the same day as support for Windows XP - April 8, 2014. The same rules apply - no more support for any of the applications in that suite of programs. Also, according to the Windows Lifecycle Factsheet
, support for Windows Vista will end on April 11, 2017
A word about the comments (if there are any)
I've refrained (as best I can) from taking a negative stance on Microsoft's position in the writing of this diary. Please don't let the comment threads become burdened with anti-Microsoft flame laden comments, it won't help the people who have legitimate questions about this issue. If you want to trash Microsoft, please do it in another diary. Thanks, Hey338Too.