Friday, June 29, 2012

Windows XP is Dying

Windows XP was originally launched on October 25th, 2001. Despite it's age it's believed that around 25% of desktop and laptop computers are still running Windows XP. Unfortunately, like all good things this must eventually end. As of April 8th, 2014 Microsoft will no longer provide automatic fixes, updates, or online technical assistance for Windows XP. “So bottom line, PC’s running Windows XP will be vulnerable to security threats.” revealed Microsoft’s Stephen L Rose. “Furthermore, many third party software providers are not planning to extend support for their applications running on Windows XP, which translates to even more complexity and security risks.”
One question that is often asked is “Why is Microsoft doing this?”. The simple answer is that Microsoft hasn't been selling XP since 2009. This means that every update that they put out gets paid for by Microsoft with no return on investment. They haven't made money off of XP in over three years. Added to that is the fact that Microsoft is on the verge of launching Windows 8. This means that by the end of the year they will be supporting four separate operating systems. Supporting each of these operating systems requires a huge investment in time and money. Eventually they have to pull the plug. Realistically, thirteen and a half years is an amazingly long time to support an operating system. To put this into perspective, Apple typically supports versions of Mac OS with security patches for three to four years.
What does this mean for you if you're currently running Windows XP on your computer? It means that once that April 8th, 2014 date passes your system will no longer be safe to connect to the Internet. In fact, just having an XP system on your network after that date will put your other devices at risk. This effectively kills XP as a viable operating system in most cases, and it will be time to upgrade.
What does an upgrade entail? Because of the age of Windows XP, most computers that are still running it will not be able to handle Windows 7. Usually a hardware upgrade will be needed to upgrade your operating system. This is not always the case however, and many machines that were made for XP can comfortably run Windows 7. My laptop at home was designed for XP, and it actually runs better with Windows 7 installed. You can check to see if your computer will run Windows 7 with Microsoft’s Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. You can download the tool from: As always, if you have any doubts consult a professional. Even if you don't plan to transition to Windows 7 until XP is abandoned, checking to see if your hardware can handle the upgrade will enable you to plan for the cost of whatever new hardware you require.
Once you find that your hardware can handle the upgrade the next step is to backup your documents. Because the infrastructure of Windows 7 is fundamentally different than XP the installation of Windows 7 will wipe your hard drive. Make sure that you have a second copy of anything that you want to keep.
Another thing to be aware of is the fact that many programs that were written for Windows XP will not work with Windows 7. Many of these will have an updated version but some will not, and the ones that do may charge you to upgrade. Usually, a quick visit to the software supplier's website will tell you what to expect.
Upgrading your operating system can be a daunting task. Unfortunately, if you are still using Windows XP the time is quickly approaching when you simply won't have a choice if you want to keep your system secure. With the approach of Windows 8 Microsoft is changing the look and feel of the desktop, so Windows 7 may be your last chance if you want to keep the familiar Windows look. On the upside Windows 7 is scheduled to be supported until 2020, so you won't have to make this transition again any time soon.

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