The End of Windows XP

XP

If you, or your workplace, are still using Windows XP, it’s time to move  on.

Microsoft will officially end support for the 2001-vintage platform on April  8, 2014, just shy of a year from now.

That means no more service packs, no more updates and, most importantly, no  more security patches.

Windows users generally receive periodic updates from Microsoft via its  Windows Update service. These fixes often patch irregular behavior in the  operating system.

More importantly, they plug vital flaws in the OS’s security, preventing  hackers and exploiters from running roughshod over private PCs. In just over a  year, this service will cease for Windows XP, marking the effective end of the  software’s 13-year run.

XP users are, of course, welcome to continue using their OS of choice after  April 2014, but this behavior entails a number of risks.

Hackers are constantly coming up with new methods of compromising users’  systems, and a lack of security updates from Microsoft will only make it easier  to do so. There may be independent XP from the security community, but  tech-savvy users generally migrated away from Windows XP (at least as their  primary system) a long time ago.

Market research indicates that  Windows XP still accounts for approximately one-third of all desktop operating  systems, despite the fact that three subsequent Windows systems have ostensibly & quotreplaced&quot it: Vista, 7 and 8.

The easiest way to avoid security vulnerabilities after XP’s updates slip  quietly into the night will be to upgrade to a newer version of Windows.  Unfortunately, the system requirements on newer versions of Windows are  considerably higher than those for XP. Vista and  Windows 8 in particular are notorious resource hogs.

Even if you choose not to update, there are still a number of ways to protect  yourself from security vulnerabilities. Be sure to stay current with Windows  Updates until April 2014, and run regular anti-virus and malware scans after  that. Stay away from suspicious websites and email  attachments. Even on older systems, a judicious application of common sense will  prevent the vast majority of system exploits.

For business users and others with lots of sensitive data, general caution  and hoping for the best is probably not the best strategy. It may be time to  invest in a new OS. If your desktop can’t run it, then it’s time to save up for  a new computer. You’ve got a year.

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