After almost 13 years of service, Windows XP will officially come to the end of its life on April 8 2014. Since its release in October 2011 it has been a staple operating system for millions of businesses and homes alike. As at February 2014, approximately 30% of PCs worldwide still use Windows XP! But for the die hard fans that refuse to move to a new operating system, there are a few things you need to be aware of.
The biggest issue for any internet connected computer running Windows XP is that fact that Microsoft will no longer release patches, fixes or updates to the operating system, potentially leaving the machine vulnerable to a wide variety security risks and viruses. The shady characters that create these nasty pieces of software are going to be particularly aware of the end of life of Windows XP. It would not surprise me if they are sitting on something particularly nasty, just waiting for the sun to set on Windows XP support as once this happens, anything they release that could potentially attack Windows XP vulnerabilities will not be patched, therefore for being open to attack for the rest of its life!
The other issue that is not as severe is the end of support by Microsoft for technical issues. This is not a major set back as there are many IT support companies (We happen to know a great one!) that can still provide technical support. It remains to be seen how long these companies will continue to support Windows XP, but I am sure there will always be someone out there willing to provide ongoing support.
So what to do next? The best path forward is to upgrade to a new operating system. New consumer grade laptops and computers are very affordable these days. You can get into a new PC from as little as $300 these days. Not only will you then be running a support operating system that receives security patches etc, you might find it is actually very ease to use with some great new features, and almost certainly faster. Obviously businesses that may need to replace multiple machines are going to be up for substantially more investment, however in our opinion the risks are far more severe than the capital outlay.
So what can you do if you persist with Windows XP? The only thing you can do is ensure your antivirus software and Windows XP itself are as up to date as they can be. A hardened Windows XP with up to date antivirus software and a good firewall will be always be beneficial, but the risks ongoing are only going to increase.