“So Microsoft won’t send out XP updates any more, what’s the big deal?”
“My XP computer works fine – I’m going to use it until it dies!”
“They’re not going to force me to upgrade!”
Those are some of the reactions that computer users have had, when advised that they will need to either upgrade their Windows XP computer to a newer version of Windows, or replace their computer, because of Windows XP expiring.
In case you have not heard, Windows XP’s official EOL (End of Life) is April 8, 2014. After that date, Microsoft will no longer support it. I wanted to explain specifically what that means, and why I think it will become a REALLY big deal.
Every month, on the second Tuesday of the month, Microsoft sends out Windows Updates. Many of these are security patches (hence the nickname “Patch Tuesday”). These are designed to fix any security problems that have been discovered or reported within the previous 30 days. It’s important that you get these updates and get them installed as soon as possible, in order to be sure that your computer is operating safely and securely.
Right now, those security patches include updates for Windows XP. In spite of it being a good, stable operating system, Windows XP gets patched up regularly. The hackers and bad guys are constantly looking for a way in, and those security updates are one of the biggest ways they are kept out.
After April 8, 2014, just a few months from now, any security problems found in Windows XP are just going to be left that way. It will be open season for hackers. I can easily imagine them waiting eagerly for that day to get here. It’s quite likely that they already are stockpiling known vulnerabilities in XP – ones that they know about but Microsoft does not yet know about – and will execute them after April 8.
And even if the bad guys don’t have anything up their sleeve right now, they will have a ready supply of them each month after April – and can you guess where they will get them? From Microsoft! This is because of the monthly updates that come out on Patch Tuesday. When Microsoft patches up a security hole in Windows Vista, or Windows 7, or Windows 8, that same security problem might also exist in Windows XP – but it won’t be patched. So now, the hacker just has to look at the problems that just got fixed on the newer versions of Windows, then go back and see if Windows XP has that same vulnerability – because they know it won’t be patched, ever!
There is a lot of backlash against upgrading from XP. Here’s why:
People like XP. Hey, I don’t blame them – I liked it too. I also liked the sound of a rotary-dial telephone, but that doesn’t mean I still use one.
People (and companies) don’t want to spend the money to upgrade or replace computers that are currently working. There is an element of logic to that. It’s like driving an old car – might not be the coolest or fastest car on the road, but it does still run and gets you where you need to go. But if you knew that on a certain date the engine was going to explode, would you wait until it exploded before replacing the car?
People don’t really understand that their XP computers will almost certainly be infected. This will be especially bad for companies. When the meltdown happens, I believe a lot of IT managers will be fired because they didn’t prepare for it. What if a company has dozens or hundreds of computers, and suddenly they are all infected and unusable? That company is essentially out of business until they scramble to get all those computers upgraded or replaced – a very expensive project, especially when done under the stress of getting the employees back to being able to work again.
The same thing is going to happen to the residential PC market. Lots of people are going to suddenly realize that their computer is so clogged with viruses and malware that it’s unusable, so they will run out and buy a new computer – which will have Windows 8 as the operating system. Then the real frustration begins because of the learning curve involved with Windows 8, since it is so different from all previous versions of Windows. A much better choice is Windows 7, which operates very similarly to Windows XP – and it will be supported by Microsoft through the year 2020.
If you act now, you can still get Windows 7 computers (laptops and desktops). I have seen them on the shelf at my local Tiger Direct retail store, and I’m pretty sure you can order them online from TigerDirect.com, Dell.com, HP.com and some of the other manufacturers. Of course, this could change at any time, but I think right now a lot of the companies are still recognizing that there is a huge number of users that don’t want to move to Windows 8. But Windows 7 computers are going to gradually become harder and harder to come by (in my opinion).
If you absolutely don’t want to spend the money to upgrade to a newer version of Windows, there are still a couple of options:
- Keep your Windows XP computer, but don’t connect it to the internet. This is not really a viable option for most people.
- Get rid of Windows completely and switch to the Linux operating system. A lot of computer geeks love Linux. It’s fast, it’s very stable, and it is free. But you would definitely have a learning curve involved because it is a completely different operating system.
The bottom line is, you are almost certainly going to have to just get a new computer (with Windows 7 if possible) or upgrade your current computer to a newer version of Windows. And since Windows XP has been around since 2001, in most cases it doesn’t really make sense to upgrade a computer that old to a new operating system. It’s probably better to just put that money toward a new computer.