As many have heard, Windows XP has now entered its end of support phase. This means several indirect things, but the biggest impact will be the end of security updates for the aged Operating System. The biggest question I’ve been asked about this is whether people should freak out about this change. Read on to find out what you need to know.
For something that has been around since late 2001, Windows XP is a real workhorse. Recent numbers by NetMarketShare have the the desktop install base at 27.69%. That reflects a number of things; Among them, Microsoft’s inability to convince users to upgrade, technological hurdles, costs involved, and the reliability of the operating system itself. It’s an unprecedented move for a company to walk away from that large of a user base, regardless of the operating system’s age.
The truth about this news is, don’t panic. No matter what you’re hearing from the media or others about doom and gloom, Windows XP isn’t going to blow up your computer. You aren’t going to fall off a giant computing cliff. Microsoft doesn’t have a secret backdoor into your computer (although it may seem like it). Over time, Windows XP is going to start getting less useful, and more vulnerable to attacks. To keep XP, you’ll need to stay more vigilant about browsing, while working harder to use software that may not be fully compatible. Eventually, software will check for your operating system’s version and stop installing.
Here’s what you should know:
1. Microsoft will no longer let you download Security Essentials (Microsoft’s free Anti-Virus package). As far as I can tell, current users are still able to get updates at least for another year. Does this mean you can install a pre-downloaded copy of the software? Yes, likely. Most Anti-Virus vendors should still support XP, for now.
2. Internet Explorer 8 is the most recent Microsoft browser you can use on XP. Don’t use it. You still can run Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox – and you probably should.
3. New updates have stopped, but older updates are still out there. You should update everything you have installed (including Windows) to newest you can get it. A large number of problems are solved with updates.
4. When and if you migrate, use Windows Easy Transfer. There is a Windows XP version.
5. Never have your Windows XP computer directly connected to the Internet. Make sure there is something like a router or firewall in-between.
Needless to say, you ought to look forward and plan on replacing that computer or upgrading the operating system. Most native Windows XP machines will probably not be worth upgrading, so looking at off-lease Windows 7 models may save you a pile of money, and keep you current enough to carry on. While you’re at it, use that OEM version of Windows XP in a virtual machine.