On April 8th 2014 Microsoft will remove the support for the XP operating system, thus leaving millions of users without adequate security protection for their older systems. In a fast moving industry it is inevitable that operating systems will come and go, but XP was still being sold in 2007 so this is at least three years early in my opinion as well as that of many in the IT industry. Here we will look at what this means to you and at options available to those with older system still using Windows XP?
What Do Microsoft Mean By Removing Support?
Since its launch in 2001, XP has been the biggest ever seller for a computer operating system. Over this time most of us will have become familiar with the interface and the frequent Windows Updates that are automatically loaded. These are essential for the continued efficient operation and security of the computer system. It is this service that is being removed. No further XP security patches or fixes will be released.
Will My XP System Become Unusable On April 8th 2014?
No! Far from it. Your system will run as normal. The loss of the update process will not impact the running of the system in any way. What will happen will be that your system will become increasingly vulnerable to malicious attack of malware, hackers and viruses. Threatening your data security and privacy.
What Do Microsoft Recommend?
Microsoft’s stance is rather unhelpful as they recommend upgrading your operating system to Windows 7 or 8. The sad fact is that many of the older XP systems will not be capable of effectively running Windows 7 or 8 due to hardware restrictions. Microsoft’s somewhat cold hearted response to this is that you ‘should upgrade your hardware’. Or put another way, buy a new computer.
What Else Can I Do?
There will be a lot of ‘panic’ press as we draw close to April 8th. Try not to get caught up in the hype. There is no pack of hounds at the door waiting to burst in on the 8th, despite what you may read in the press. However, as the months roll by the XP operating system will become more and more vulnerable and unstable. The quickest and most effective way to avoid these complications and risks is to do as Microsoft suggest, upgrade your system to Windows 7 or 8 before the demise of XP.
However, you can buy yourself some time by running a full featured Internet Security/AntiVirus suite, such as Norton, Kaspersky, ESet, Bitdefender, McAfee etc;. All of the major providers have committed to support protection on XP until the end of 2014. If you do take this option you should still look to move onto a new operating system by year end at the latest. It is a temporary fix only. Note too that the free versions of antivirus, most common being AVG, Avast and Security Essentials are NOT sufficient to protect your system beyond April 8th.
Are There Other Options?
The short answer is yes. How appropriate these are for you will depend on your circumstance:
Remove Windows XP and install a Linux operating system such as Ubuntu. Ubuntu is free as it is part of the open source library and provides a very good and professional alternative to Windows.
- Remove your XP system from the internet and only use it for ‘offline’ activity.
- Use a tablet system (Android/iPad) for your daily internet/email needs supplemented by your XP system running as a word processor/office document tool without an internet connection. (there are methods for transferring documents without conencting the PC to the web)
No matter what you intend to do though; you MUST take action before 8th April to protect your system & data from malicious attack.