The end is nigh!
Well, for Windows XP it is.
After 12 years of supporting Windows XP, Microsoft are finally pulling the plug on their ageing beast. What this means is that from April 8th 2014, Windows XP will no longer receive security and vulnerability updates via Microsoft Update, or hotfixes and other updates. Additionally, Microsoft will no longer be offering support facilities for customers with Windows XP. This means your Windows XP machine could be vulnerable to future exploits that are discovered and therefore vulnerable to attack.
According to recent studies, Windows XP still accounts for approximately 30% of Windows based computers in use around the world.
What is more, a recent revelation by the banking industry has revealed that 95% of the cash machines in the world are running Windows XP CE!
Egads! That is horrible!
Actually, the sheer volume of Windows XP machines still in use, combined with the obvious fears of the banking world faced with the impracticality of upgrading and/or replacing all their cash machines by April 8th, has led to Microsoft revising their plans.
Microsoft are still stopping support for Windows XP. Nothing has changed there. They have decided to extend support for Microsoft Security Essentials, in the form of virus definition updates and engine updates. There will now be a grace period until July 14th 2015.
Does this mean everything is okay until July 14th 2015?
No. It just means that if you use Microsoft Security Essentials, then you can continue receiving updates for a while longer. Windows XP itself will still be vulnerable to security exploits, plus as software and hardware advances, you will find your machine less able to cope with the demands that are put on it. There will also likely be compatibility issues with future software and hardware releases.
So what can you do? Microsoft would love you to go out and buy a brand new machine with Windows 8.1 pre-installed. That is great if you have the money and don’t mind the steep learning curve that is Windows 8.1 (it is vastly different from Windows XP, which many have found confusing).
There are alternatives if you are on a tight budget, which I talked about recently in my blog.
The two alternatives that stand out are Google’s Chrome OS based Chromebook, and Linux. Chromebooks are cheap, fast and virus free. Also you may be able to extend the life of your existing Windows XP machine, by installing Ubuntu (Linux). It is free to download and install, plus does not suffer from virus infections, which means you can feel safe from the ever present threats we read about.
Finally, if you are planning on sticking with Windows XP for the foreseeable future, then try to get all the updates that are available installed before the 8th April deadline.